Another Halloween has come and gone at UW-Madison, and, as compared to other years, it was fairly tame.
The city expected up to 100,000 guests in town for both Halloween celebrations and Saturday’s Homecoming football game against Michigan State University.
On Saturday night and early Sunday morning, a contingent of over 100 Madison Police officers managed an estimated crowd of 60,000-70,000 people stretching the length of State Street.
Police also issued an unknown number of citations. Final numbers are scheduled to be released today.
Two incidents occurred involving a crush of pedestrians, one each in the 200 and 500 blocks of State Street. Exact figures are unavailable, but at least 10 arrests were made due to fights and batteries, MPD Captain George Silverwood said in a statement.
The Orpheum Theatre, 216 State, experienced the most serious congestion problem during the sold-out Naughty By Nature concert.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the way concertgoers were brought into the theater was unacceptable. Verveer said there were hundreds of people drinking at the bar in the lobby, effectively slowing down the flow of the crowd and creating a safety hazard.
Madison Police Department officers were dispatched to restore order.
“The police department had to devote large resources to the Orpheum,” said Verveer, who spent half of the night with MPD officers. “Had it not been for them, there could have been injuries.”
Because of the danger the Orpheum’s logistics presented, MPD Assistant Chief Richard Cowan took the unusual step of revoking the facility’s liquor license for the evening.
Verveer said this was the first time in recent memory that the police had to shut down a bar. Police may also bring charges against the Orpheum, Verveer said.
Local hospitals reported experiencing crowded nights in their emergency departments.
“We were very busy all evening and much of the night,” Meriter Hospital nursing coordinator Peggy Spiewak said. “It was one of the busiest weekends I’ve worked.”
UW Hospital and St. Mary’s were also busy, but did not report being any busier than usual.
“It definitely was busy, but Saturday nights are busy,” UW Hospital nursing supervisor Trudy Brule said.
Madison Fire/Rescue ambulances were dispatched to approximately 20 calls in the State Street area throughout the evening.
Verveer said police were worried about bonfires, but only one was started, and it was quickly extinguished by police at the scene. Only a few incidences of serious vandalism were reported.
Police were also concerned about traffic problems, and decided to utilize their traffic contingency plan to shut down Johnson and Gorham streets in the State Street area from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m., and to reroute traffic to other areas.
“To the cops’ credit, shutting down the streets was a good idea,” Verveer said. “They prevented drunken partygoers from being hit by cars.”
In any case, most students enjoyed the evening.
“State Street was in usual fashion; it was a good time, as expected,” UW senior Patricia McNulty said.
Verveer said he was pleased with the entire evening.
“Overall, I think things went great,” he said.
Jonathan Goldman contributed to this report.