All Hallows Eve in Dinkytown

Costumed mayhem in Dinkytown on Saturday night is just college students doing what 20-year-olds do.

by Ian J Byrne

I arrived in Dinkytown at 11:47 p.m. Saturday. A boisterous posse of Tetris pieces cleared a path through the drunken hoards for this sober and slightly agitated columnist. It was my first time on the beat, and being a veteran of the 2009 Spring Jam “riot,” I was thinking Halloween eve in Dinkytown would offer its fair share of mayhem.

I passed up the Tetris posse as they found difficulty getting around the early crowd standing outside Mesa Pizza. To see how they navigated through bars would be a story in itself.

Walking behind a television set and Popeye the Sailorman, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle threw a shoulder into Popeye passing the opposite direction. Was I about to witness a comical cartoon-in-real-life altercation between two of the more obscure cartoon characters? “Did you see that?” Popeye said. “Yeah, come on,” his television set friend said as he whisked him away toward Library Bar.

A man, dressed as a promiscuous cavewoman, stood shivering on the corner with a bloodied face outside the Library Bar. I initially thought his costume was an abused Wilma Flintstone done in poor taste, but I soon realized this guy had been assaulted. He told the police he had been jumped on the corner and had lost his wallet and cell phone. I felt bad, but wondered how that happened in plain sight.

Minneapolis Police Sergeant Swalve watched the entrance of the Library Bar from the corner across the street. He said the night had so far been low key; nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. “It looks like a lot of fun,” he said. “All students are respectful toward us and comment on our costumes, which are the greatest.” A student dressed as a police officer then walked up. “Can I get a picture with you guys please?”

A helicopter hovered overhead, shining its spotlight down on Dinkytown. The intense light illuminated the costumed drunkards. I felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic world.

“WhatâÄôre you supposed to be?” asked penguin Justin Ramdular, a third-year student. I told him I was nothing and that I was working on a story, then I settled for Peter Parker. Ramdular said the weekend had been tame. The long lines at the bars had his spirits down.

RamdularâÄôs friend, fortune cookie Kevin Kwong, a University senior, had been handing out fortunes throughout the night. “IâÄôm the only fortune cookie out here so I feel unique,” he said.

Ramdular and Kwong estimated that Jersey Shore characters accounted for 10 to 15 percent of costumes. “A lot of Pauly Ds and Snookis are out here,” they said.

The two joined me and we made a circle around the backstreets of Dinkytown and back to Fourth Street. The scene at Blarney Pub & Grill was a sight to behold. People jamming themselves through the front door as if their lives depended on it, dancers hanging out the window screaming at passersby, an abundance of unintelligible drunken banter saturated the air.

With the penguin and fortune cookie, I circled around and found the backstreets to be uneventful. We returned to Fourth Street.

Across the street in the alley between Varsity Theater and ErikâÄôs Bike Shop, trouble was brewing. A Minneapolis Police squad car whipped a U-turn on Fourth Street and sped into the alley. I ran down 13th Avenue to the rear of the 1301 University apartments. Six police officers stood around three men handcuffed on the ground.

“Some guys were pushing each other in the street. One cop walked up and maced the entire group without asking questions. It was awesome,” said witness Rob Cramer, a student at Brown College.

A visibly intoxicated woman stood by crying. “I got hit in the face twice, that guy over there. It was like 12 people versus two,” she said. Her friend consoled her and told her to go talk to the police. She was too drunk and distraught to do so until a police officer walked over and asked who had seen what happened.

One man told the police that a fight had broken out in the parking lot behind 1301 University. When the police arrived, the suspects ran into the building and into the elevator. “Those dudes are in my building now,” he said.

A suspect in handcuffs was led away by police. “ThatâÄôs him!” said the drunken woman pointing at him. “Man,” the suspect said apathetically as he directed his stare upward.

Bar close was approaching. I walked over to Mesa Pizza to witness the hungry, inebriated masses. Jean Watson, a senior studying business and marketing education, dressed as Cruella De Vil, leaned against a lamppost talking to her friends. “ItâÄôs cold tonight,” she said. “I went to Madison my freshman year. It was quite different. It was a blast.”

Alexa Kruger, a student at Mankato State University, begged to differ. “I know like 15 people from Mankato who came down here tonight because itâÄôs more fun,” she said. “ItâÄôs like the State Fair but with costumes.”

It was 2:30 am. The scene at Mesa Pizza was calm and things were winding down. A couple standing next to me was having a very drunken and arbitrary argument. I looked across the street and saw a woman hanging out the passenger door of an SUV vomiting her brains onto the street. I had been in Dinkytown for almost four hours. It was time to leave.

Sergeant Swalve summed up the night best: “ItâÄôs just a bunch of college students doing what 20-year-olds do.”


Ian J Byrne welcomes comments at
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