Police hope families keep holiday safe

By Gus Bode

Authorities still take precautions despite family weekend

While officials are hoping this weekend’s family events will dull the possibility of a tumultuous Halloween weekend, they are taking extra precautions just in case.

Keg sales are banned until Monday morning, bars on the Strip will be closed the entire weekend and Carbondale Police are stepping up their patrols.

Advertisement

“It’s just precautionary,” said Police Chief Steve Odum. “Because of the history of Halloween, we have to be extra careful. But we are hoping people will take care of themselves and be more aware of their actions.”

Halloween riots began in Carbondale, when more than two decades ago in 1981, a crowd of 20,000 clashed with police, resulting in dozens of arrests, hundreds of injuries and countless dollars of damage. Small riots continued throughout the 1980s, before culminating in 1994 and 2000.

City Manager Jeff Doherty said closing the Strip and banning keg sales is specifically designed to prevent past problems. Anyone caught selling or possessing a keg could face fines ranging from $50 to $750.

But the fines hardly compare to the money local retailers are losing because of the ban. A supervisor at ABC Liquor Mart, 109 N. Washington St., said during a normal weekend, the store would sell about 75 kegs, which range in price from $53 to $75. While he expected packaged liquor sales to be strong, the store may loose more than $5,000 because of the ban.

But police are encouraging people to have fun without alcohol. SIUC Police Director Todd Sigler, who did not want to discuss patrolling efforts, said there are plenty of alternative activities this weekend.

“I am hoping people will focus on the fact that it is family weekend,” Sigler said. “There is a home football game and hopefully people will have fun safely.”

Police also want to remind people to be aware of others’ fun and safety as well. Saturday night children will hit the streets as they go door-to-door in search of tricks and treats. Because there have been an “inordinately” high number of vehicle-pedestrian accidents lately, those driving around town should be extra cautious.

Advertisement

“We put out the warnings to wear bright clothing and to carry a flashlight,” said Calvin Stearns, deputy chief of operations. “But there are going to be kids out there in dark clothes and darting around, and the chances for something bad to happen are heightened.”

Advertisement