HalloweenDom-JN-18_2

BEN CLASSON/Herald photo

The verdict is in: Madison officials have declared Freakfest 2007 a success.

With less than half the number of arrests in 2005 and no serious injuries or property damage, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said they commend the more than 34,000 attendees for their behavior.

"I think we’re in the process of re-branding the event and making it a fun community event," said MPD public information officer Joel DeSpain in an interview at the command post during Freakfest.

At the command post, officers monitored the event through the 10 security cameras on State Street and the surrounding area.

As of midnight Saturday, police said they had made 63 arrests total, down from 117 last year. DeSpain said most of the arrests were for minor alcohol-related crimes, and less than half of those arrested said they were University of Wisconsin students.

There had been 120 arrests made by 2:00 a.m. Sunday, compared to 148 arrests during Freakfest 2006 and 334 during the Saturday night party in 2005, when no admission was charged and police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd at the end of the night.

Officers made 175 arrests total this year throughout the weekend, as compared to 235 in 2006.

As far as the hopes of the police department, DeSpain said the event went remarkably well.

"I think we’re moving a long way to making this an event that isn’t so wrapped around policing, which is what we’re trying to move away from," DeSpain said. "It was never intended to be that from its origins."

DeSpain said the most significant problem police and fire personnel encountered on Friday night was an intoxicated person who threw several punches inside an ambulance that was taking him to a local hospital. Police also dealt with a trash can near the Capitol that had been lit on fire Saturday night.

As of 1:00 a.m. Saturday, the MPD reported that only one person was conveyed to detox from the event and no one had been transported to the hospital as a result of injuries.

According to his communications director George Twigg, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz was pleased that Freakfest ran smoothly and ended peacefully. The mayor enjoyed the event himself as he roamed State Street from around 10:30 p.m. until after midnight, Twigg added.

"He was very happy that for a second year in a row, there was no violence to mar the event," Twigg said.

Due to the success this year, Twigg said Frank Productions has expressed interest in partnering with the city again next year, although no formal agreement has yet been made.

DeSpain said Frank Productions has high expectations that even more well-known bands will flock to the event in the future, adding the company hopes to build on this year’s success for next year.

"Something had to be done. Whether this was the exact right thing, I think only time will tell, but I don’t think we could have gone on the way it was with riots taking place and potentially people getting injured or killed," DeSpain said. "Hopefully Freakfest can be something the community can be proud of, and the ugliness of 2002 and 2003 will be distant memories."