Halloween on Franklin Street has long been one of Chapel Hill’s most prominent traditions. However, this year’s showing was notably small — but no less jovial.
In years past, the town jubilee on Halloween has drawn tens of thousands. In 2008, the number of attendees exceeded the entire population of Chapel Hill by 20,000 to 30,000 — coming in at around 80,000 total people.
The Franklin Street event has historically brought in thousands of costumed revelers, not only Chapel Hill locals and UNC students, but visitors from across the state and beyond.
In the past, the Chapel Hill Police Department has closed Franklin to automotive traffic to protect pedestrians.
This year, plans were announced to block off the street from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., but they were never closed due to an unexpectedly small crowd, according to the Chapel Hill Police Department. However, several police officers stood by with cones and “road closed” signs should the need have arisen.
This year’s somewhat reduced attendance may also have to do with the holiday falling on a Tuesday, especially as it coincided with midterm season for many UNC students.
A heightened concern for public safety has historically come with the tradition, according to Town officials. Previous Halloween festivities on Franklin Street have included bonfires and excessive drinking.
Several community members also prepared for a gigantic crowd. But, especially in comparison to the legendary Chapel Hill Halloweens of years past, the street felt markedly spare.
Chapel Hill resident Willow Quillen, who was dressed as Kim Possible, said there were more attendees last year despite worse weather conditions.