Unofficial may benefit city economically

By Sean Phee

One only needs to go to YouTube and type in “Carbondale Halloween” to see that Halloween and unofficial Halloween are big events in the city.

However, Halloween may provide a significant economic boost to the city according to residents and business owners.

Residents have been celebrating Halloween earlier in the month since an infamous riot in 2000. Carbondale City Manger Kevin Baity said the City Council decided to close many bars on the strip during Halloween, and students reacted by creating unofficial Halloween on an earlier date.


Some residents loathe the annual celebration because of large amounts of alcohol consumption and property damage caused by some party-goers.

Unofficial Halloween attracts hundreds of people to the city of Carbondale for Halloween-themed parties. This year it fell on Oct. 17 and 18, and resulted in some criminal activity including a flipped car. Still, this year’s celebration was not as unruly as past events, which prompted the council’s decision in the first place, Baity said.

While some say the event has a positive impact on the city economically, Baity disagrees.

“From an economic standpoint, unofficial does not produce significant retail sales that are trackable,” he said.

However, many business owners reported a large increase in sales during the weekend.

James Karayiannis, the president of Pinch Penny Pub and Copper Dragon, said his businesses saw a tremendous increase in sales during unofficial.

Greg Knoob, owner of Levels and Saluki Bar, said he saw a 100 percent increase in business.


“It is by far our biggest event for the fall semester,” Knoob said. “I think for most businesses the Halloween season—including unofficial—is important for them financially.”

Bars were not the only establishments that saw a sales increase.

Many local restaurants including Jimmy John’s, Don Taco, Chili’s, Fat Patties, New Kahala, and several others saw a sales increase, according to their employees.

“I’m guessing we saw a 15 to 20 percent increase in business,” said Brian Swaboda, manager at Harbaugh’s Cafe.

“There was definitely more people at the mall and in here buying things,” said Shantal Byfield, alumna and employee at Buckle.

Students noticed an increase in economic activity.

Kyle Ecton, a junior from Naperville studying criminal justice, said it is hard to find a restaurant to go to during unofficial because of all the people that come into town for the weekend.

“Every restaurant in town had a line out the door,” Ecton said. “The bars, the mall and even Wal-Mart was swarmed with people from out-of-town.”

Baity said additional overtime costs for fireman, police and public works may negate economic benefits.

Kevin Sylwester, as associate professor of economics, said businesses definitely made money with the number of visitors, but that is not the only factor.

“It’s a numbers game,” Sylwester said. “You have to add up all the profit made by the businesses and then subtract the costs of public services.”

Knoob said the boost given to businesses exceeds such costs, and the partying of recent Halloween celebrations is not as detrimental as past decades.

“Halloween events can be positive from what I have seen. Most of the bars in town are doing a very good job of providing safe places to have these events,” Knoob said.

Still, Baity does not see unofficial as a completely negative event, he said.

Baity said it is only a small percentage of people that are violent and damage property.

“The issues that hurt any community’s image are the small events where people choose to defiantly disobey the laws and the enforcement actions of police,” Baity said.

Ecton said the Halloween activities are mostly positive, but he does not want the party-goers to have a bad reputation.

“It’s a shame that you have a few idiots that ruin it for everyone else,” Ecton said.