Time is running out for those still without a costume — Freakfest 2009 is tomorrow.
The annual Halloween celebration on State Street will run from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Saturday. While tomorrow brings the switch of daylight savings time, the gala ends at the first occurrence of 1:30 a.m.
According to a release from Frank Productions, Freakfest promoter, the event features three stages offering live music. On the main stage on Capitol Square at the intersection of Carroll and State streets, Third Eye Blind is tentatively scheduled to perform at 12:15 a.m. Proceeding this act are artists Cage the Elephant, Hot Chelle Rae, Push Play and Priscilla Renea.
Five bands are scheduled to perform on the Gilman Stage at Gilman and State streets, with Locksley playing at midnight. Also performing on this stage are The Nod, Fever Marlene, Green Means Go and Sweet Grass.
The third stage at Frances and State streets will have DJ Will Calder at 8:30 p.m., and the finals of the costume contest are scheduled for 11:30 p.m. According to Vice President of Frank Productions Dave Maynard, some of the prizes for the contest include a trip to New Zealand, a 42-inch plasma screen television and a variety of gift certificates to local businesses.
Tickets for the event are $7 today, which can be bought online at Frankproduction.com, on Ticketmaster, the Coliseum box office, a variety of local businesses or at a booth on Library Mall today from 2 to 10 p.m. Tickets purchased tomorrow are $10.
MPD says behave!
Lt. David McCaw of the Madison Police Department warned of behavior that will draw police attention. He advised attendees to not over-drink, to take care of friends and to not engage in dangerous behavior.
McCaw said the police will not be looking for “one or two fish in the bowl” in terms of underage drinking, but underage drinking will be an issue if someone is drawing attention to him or herself.
“You have to work pretty hard to get the police’s attention [at Freakfest],” McCaw said.
According to McCaw, the relevant laws attendees should be aware of for the night include underage drinking, a first-offense citation of $177; disorderly conduct, a citation of $429; and having an ID that is not your own, a citation of $429.
McCaw also said to not bring anything such as fake weapons or glass, as the area is a glass-free zone on Saturday night.
At a recent press conference, Joel Plant, assistant to Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, said the planning for Freakfest has been a collaborative effort.
Given the riotous behavior of the crowds and chaos seen on State Street in the past, Plant said the city decided to “fundamentally change” the event a couple of years ago. Now, with declining arrests seen for the event, Plant was satisfied with the results from the change.
“[Freakfest] is something the city can be proud of,” Plant said.
Plant also said the ultimate goal is to drive down the public cost of the event while maintaining a fun and safe time. However, he said this will not happen in the next couple of years. The event will not break even through revenues in the next few years either.
The police recourses assigned to the event match the change in attitude toward the event and the optimism the plans will go off without a hitch. Eighty fewer officers will be on duty for this year’s event, and the Madison Police Department will be the sole agency on patrol Friday night — a departure from previous years, when other agencies such as the Dane County Sheriff’s Department helped out.
The city will also not have a detention center set up in the garage of City Hall but has the capacity to set one up one if it is needed. Metro buses will still be used to house rowdy attendees as they receive citations.
Both Plant and MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain attributed the decrease in police resources to the change in behavior of Freakfest attendees.
Amid the chaos of Freakfest and other Halloween festivities, the University of Wisconsin SAFE Program and University Health Services encourage students to keep safety and health top priorities.
In order to ensure personal safety, students should formulate their plan for the night prior to going out, start and end the night in a group, familiarize themselves with their surroundings, and simply make intelligent personal decisions, said Troy Ruland, Department of Transportation Services.
“Although we are not as heavily concerned with safety on State Street proper because active police will be present, we do want to emphasize the importance of safe transportation to and from parties that may be farther away,” UW spokesperson John Lucas said.
If any student splits from his or her group or gets stuck in an unsafe situation, he or she should call the SAFEwalk or SAFEride cab programs that will be operating each night, Ruland said.
Even though SAFEride cabs are available, they should be a student’s last resort because the Union Cab service — SAFEride’s source of taxis — is expecting delays due to the amount of people and street closings, Ruland said.
He also added each student, who must present a valid UW identification, is allowed only one ride per night, which should be a ride home, not simply a ride to another party.
While it is vital that students take these safety precautions for which the administration has been continually advocating, an awareness of the H1N1 issue must also be a main concern, Lucas said.
“Students have no need to be fearful of H1N1 this weekend, yet should be aware of the increasing number of H1N1 cases statewide,” said Sarah Van Orman, executive director of University Health Services.
At Freakfest, parties or any other places students are gathering in a large group, H1N1 can spread much more quickly, so if a student is exhibiting symptoms, such as a cough or a fever, he or she should stay home, Van Orman said.
She added students must continue to wash their hands regularly and avoid sharing food and drinks with anyone.