State Street Halloween festivities draw U students to Madison

T By Jake Weyer

thursday might have been Halloween, but for many University students the festivities won’t begin until this weekend in arguably one of the spookiest places around: Wisconsin.

Enter the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose students have a long tradition of throwing huge Halloween festivals on State Street, drawing tens of thousands of partygoers from as far away as the Twin Cities.

The Halloween festival is traditionally held the weekend before Halloween, but many students speculate parties will be thrown this weekend in Madison, as the holiday fell on a Thursday.

So, many University students are planning on making the more than 300-mile journey to Madison for a weekend of fun.

“I’ve been going to Madison for Halloween since I was 17,” said University junior and Wisconsin native Eric Dyer, who is also the vice president for the Minnesota Student Association.

“It basically has the same appeal as Mardi Gras,” he said.

City and campus officials in Madison said they are preparing for large crowds during this weekend’s celebration.

Madison Police Department spokesman Larry Kamholz said approximately 65,000 people went to Halloween parties last year and said the department is preparing for similar numbers this year.

Some University students said they are using this year’s holiday as an excuse to visit friends and family in the area.

“I’m going to visit my best friend,” said junior Hope Ekern, who will be going to Madison for her third consecutive Halloween. “I know a lot of other people that are going, too. My roommate, my roommate’s boyfriend, his roommates and some others are all going,” she said.

Part of State Street’s allure might be its atmosphere. It’s sealed off to traffic, and there is an abundance of bars, restaurants and other shops.

“The Badgers have their band playing all night, and it’s fun to see all the different costumes,” Dyer said.

Added Ekern, who has a gypsy costume ready for Saturday night: “It’s great to see people go all out on Halloween.”

Jake Weyer is a freelance writer. The freelance editor welcomes comments at [email protected]