Chapel Hill gears up for annual Halloween celebration

Oct. 30, 2013 @ 09:47 AM

Cooler temperatures and pumpkin flavored-everything mean that Halloween is near, and no one does Halloween like Chapel Hill.
Area residents took to Chapel Hill thrift and novelty shops last week in search of the perfect costume. Looking for inspiration among the racks and shelves, costume hunters were on the hunt for the perfect ghoulish attire.
Time After Time Vintage Thrift Shop had its costumes near the front door. Capes and pirate hats, sequins and velvet -- there was variety to sift through.
“We’re poking around to get ideas, seeing if we can get some inspiration,” said Bella Cude who was costume shopping with her friend Emi Abe.
Abe said that last year she wore a Medieval style dress while Cude was a woman warrior complete with plastic swords.
Susie Bird was with the two girls and said that she likes Halloween because it’s an opportunity to escape for a few hours.
“I like to dress up to give out candy,” she said. “I was Cruella de Vil last year and I want to be Wonder Woman this year. I love being somebody else. I make movies a lot so it’s good to be another character.”
Over at Surplus Sid’s , Berry Keith (also known as Sid), had the front door propped open inviting costume-seeks to have a look around.
“The military look is big this year. I think it’s because of the popularity of Duck Dynasty,” Keith said. “I’ve outfitted about three to four groups of girls for ‘Top Gun’ costumes. Things have always been cyclical in nature.”
Keith said that group costumes are also popular with groups in the last few years dressing as the characters from “Gilligan’s Island” and “Grease.” He added that full face masks aren’t that popular in college towns, and Chapel Hill is no different.
While the costumes may be similar from year to year, Chapel Hill is doing things much like it did last year to keep the crowds under control.
Last year, an estimated 22,000 Halloween partygoers attended the annual celebration on Franklin Street, with event management costs at a little more than $175,000. The crowd size has steadily decreased over the last eight years from a peak of 80,000.
Beginning at 9 p.m. some downtown streets will be closed off to vehicular traffic, including Franklin Street from Raleigh Street to Mallette Street, Columbia Street from Rosemary Street to Cameron Avenue, Raleigh Street from East Franklin to Cameron Avenue and Henderson Street from East Rosemary to East Franklin. Franklin Street will reopen at 11:30 p.m.
Beginning at 6 p.m., cars parked on the closed streets will be towed. Bars downtown will close their doors to new patrons at 1 a.m. and will charge a minimum of $5 to those not attending private events. Convenience stores downtown will stop selling alcohol at 1 a.m.
Chapel Hill Transit will end service early on several routes beginning around 8:30 p.m.
While creative costumes are not prohibited, items that could be used as a weapon or reasonably mistaken for a weapon will be confiscated, including wood, cardboard, hard plastic and metal. Other prohibited items include fireworks, animals, coolers, paint and alcoholic beverages.
Marwah Alzer and Cameron Armstrong, sophomores at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, plan to take part in Homegrown Halloween.
The two were searching for costumes at Surplus Sid’s. While their sorority sisters of Chi Omega will celebrate as the 50 states, the pair was still looking for the perfect outfits.
“We know we’ll go on Franklin Street for the mass celebration,” the two agreed.