The Madison City Council is expected to pass a temporary
ordinance against glass containers tonight in preparation for one of the
biggest block parties in the United States, on May 3.
What began as a street dance in 1969 and ended in a wild
confrontation between police and students protesting the Vietnam War has
evolved into a controlled gathering of thousands on the 500 block of Mifflin
In 2006, city officials clashed with students, who insisted
the block party remain on its traditional early May date even though it landed
on a “study day” before finals.
According to City Council President Mike Verveer, District
4, the date this year will again avoid the conflict since finals begin May 11
instead of May 4.
Verveer said though the City Council does not specifically
“set” the date for the Mifflin block party, they are acknowledging
the plans by voting on a glass-free ordinance for safety reasons.
“We’ll be sponsoring a glass-free zone in the West
Mifflin Street area, and that by default sets the date with the cops in the
neighborhood,” Verveer said. “Before this, there was glass everywhere
that became kind of hazardous with people in flip-flops.”
In the past few years, Madison Police Department officials
have beefed up police presence, including mounted patrols and have decreased
tickets issued for noise complaints.
Verveer said though police were more lenient last year on
noise, he thinks they could still cut students more slack during the daytime
“Cops did become more laidback with music, but it still
wasn’t good enough last year,” Verveer said. “In a perfect world they
wouldn’t write any noise violations during the day. At night I can understand
Last year, according to the MPD, 366 arrests were made
Saturday, most of which were alcohol-related, up from 263 arrests at the 2006
celebration. The MPD also estimates approximately 10,000 people attended this
year’s party, which is down from last year’s estimated 15,000.
Verveer said he will once again hold a neighborhood meeting
the last week of April with students and police to help understand each others’
expectations for the party.