Athens’ annual uptown Halloween block party last Saturday was relatively mild this year compared to some previous years, continuing a recent trend of smaller crowds and fewer arrests.

The weather – chilly and rainy for much of the day and evening – likely played a role in reducing the crowd size.

The city of Athens hosted a family-friendly festival-like that afternoon outside on the first block of West Union Street but few people attended, at least partly due to intermittent rain throughout the afternoon, some of it heavy.

Nonetheless, the people who did show up appeared to have had a good time, especially those who came uptown for the annual Honey for the Heart giant puppet parade at 6 p.m., either to participate or watch as the colorful “giant puppets” and costumed paraders strolled down Court Street and back.

The usual crowds of costumed (and not) partiers swelled as the night progressed, most of them near two stages, located near the corner of West Union and South Congress streets and on North Court Street, outside of Courtside Pizza.

The Athens Police Department reported arresting four people during the block party Saturday, and the Ohio University Police Department reported arresting two people, all on “alcohol-related charges,” according to a release from the city of Athens. 

By comparison, the APD arrested 12 people on the Saturday of block party last year, while the OUPD arrested nine people on charges largely related to alcohol and marijuana.

That’s compared to the APD arresting 15 people two years prior during the block party, and the OUPD arresting almost 70 people between Friday and Saturday of Halloween 2017.

Both APD Chief Tom Pyle and OUPD Chief Andrew Powers, when spoken to Saturday around 11 p.m., said they believe these were the lowest arrest numbers both agencies have ever seen for the night of the block party. Partiers were asked to move off the streets by law enforcement before midnight.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Investigative Unit (liquor control agents) arrested 46 people during the block party, according to Athens Deputy Service-Safety Director Ron Lucas. An OIU spokesperson said this week that a total of 70 people were arrested over the whole weekend.

Athens County EMS responded to 14 calls during the block party, mostly in response to reports of overly intoxicated people, but that agency did respond to two overdoses as well, one on Mill Street and another on Stewart Street, as well as a “fall with injury” on South Green Drive. That agency responded to 14 calls during last year’s block party, compared to 25 the year prior.

The city of Athens in its release did not provide the arrest numbers for the Ohio Investigative Unit (liquor patrol).

Around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, a parade of Ohio State Highway Patrol cruisers – more than a dozen cruisers and support vehicles – entered Athens via Stimson Avenue, North 1804 Way and Mill Street, with their lights flashing.

Asked about the reason for the organized entrance, OSHP Lt. Virgil Conley of the Athens Post explained that the Patrol’s Mobile Field Force had been requested for additional support for the Halloween block party in Athens. “The MFF comprises troopers that are not from the area. We wanted to ensure that all of the troopers arrived together at the staging area,” he said.

Friday night in Athens into early Saturday morning was eventful as well with a lot of police and first-responder activities.

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