Oct 292012
 
Downtown Greenville establishments and Greenville police were ready for an onslaught of activity Saturday night as students and residents flooded downtown in their Halloween costumes after ECU's Homecoming win over Tulane. (Rob Taylor/The Daily Reflector)

Downtown Greenville establishments and Greenville police were ready for an onslaught of activity Saturday night as students and residents flooded downtown in their Halloween costumes after ECU’s Homecoming win over Tulane. (Rob Taylor/The Daily Reflector)

Monday, October 29, 2012

The thousands of young people expected to descend on downtown Greenville this week reminds the community how the Halloween festivities serve as both blessing and curse. While the city’s status as a destination for the holiday draws valuable commerce to the downtown district and elsewhere, filling the coffers of entertainment entrepreneurs, it comes with a security obligation that challenges to law enforcement annually.

The task of ensuring that the celebration is both safe and free of incidents for both party-goers and officers is made more difficult this year with Oct. 31 falling on a Wednesday, making spillover to the weekend possible. It is incumbent upon all attending to take responsibility for one another and for Greenville police to execute the security plan in the professional manner the city has come to expect.

While it would be difficult to pinpoint the reasons why Greenville became a destination point for Halloween revelry, the tradition stretches back decades. East Carolina University once had a reputation as a party school despite the excellence of its academic programming. Students hosting house parties and gathering in the downtown bar and restaurant district for the holiday lured a larger number of visitors, causing the occasion to be a prominent one each year.

With the growth of the party came problems, however, none greater than the 1975 riot that resulted in several injuries and dozens of arrests. Though both students and law enforcement traded charges over who started the altercation, it would eventually result in action by the city to end the celebration. That backfired as it pushed the festivities into surrounding neighborhoods. Soon the city relented and a reasonable, measured and planned approach resulted, the modern manifestation of which will be on display Wednesday.

That afternoon, police will erect barricades to impede traffic slow into downtown and establish entry points for revelers. As the costumed masses arrive, they will be searched for alcohol, drugs and weapons to ensure a safe and law-abiding celebration within the security cordon. There will be medical stations at the ready and police will clear the area shortly after the bars close at 2 a.m.

That plan has worked well for Greenville in years past and should serve the community well again. However, its execution depends in part on the responsibility of those in attendance. They should strive to be safe, travel with friends and to look out for one another so that all have a good night.

via The Daily Reflector.

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