Ban on Halloween lifted after 12 years

By Stephanie Danner


After nearly two decades of strict Halloween weekend regulations specific to the Strip, the Carbondale City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday to lift the ban on downtown bar operations for a one-year trial period, making this the first time in twelve years the bars will be allowed to open.

The ordinance banning bar operation was originally put in place in 1994 after violent riots and street parties broke out on the Strip. After the ban was set in place, the bars closed yearly until 2000 when they were allowed to open for one year. This resulted in another violent street party that required police intervention. Since then, bars on the Strip have not been allowed to open on Halloween until the recent City Council’s revisit to the ordinance.


Several months ago, Sally Carter, owner of Hanger 9, requested the ban be lifted and bars be treated equally regardless of their location. Soon after, the City Council devised four possible plans of action: a one year trial period, a graduated reduction of restricted boundary area, a complete repeal of restrictions on Class B liquor licenses as it relate to Halloween or a resolution maintaining the existing restrictions.

Councilwoman Jane Adams, along with a majority of the council, voted in favor of the first option.

“This will not be a street party,” she said. “Nobody wants a street party. That’s over. This is not going to be resurrecting Halloween. This is going to be letting three bars stay open.”

Bryan Woodruff, manager at Sidetracks, said he understood the necessity of the ban 12 years ago but thinks it has been enforced beyond the years required to control the chaos.

Woodruff said he thinks there will be no problems because students have been under control during unofficial Halloween and believes it will carry over into official Halloween.

“I hope the students realize the chance they have been given and can prove they are responsible,” he said.

While most members of the City Council were in favor of the ordinance, some members, like councilman Lee Fronabager, were opposed to the one-year trial.


“If you were to open it up for everybody, for a one-year trial basis, and the ugly head of Halloween past rears up and causes an incident, that’s already happened,” he said. “It could hurt other things within the community, as far as bad publicity for the city as well as recruitment for the university.”

Mayor Joel Fritzler said he was also against the one-year trial period because it could hamper development. Although Fritzler and Fronabarger voted against the one-year trial, they are supportive of the City Council’s decision.

When the ban was written into city code, the bars were given a discount on the liquor license fee because they were not allowed to be open during Halloween weekend. Now, if Stix Bar and Billiards, Hanger 9 and Sidetracks decide to open for the four-day Halloween weekend, they will be required to pay the full liquor license, which costs between $375 and $1,125 for 2013-2014.

In addition, the Carbondale Police Department said it will need additional funding to compensate for Halloween weekend security.

The department estimated it would need $30,000 to purchase new protective gear to assist in handling large crowds and $5,000 – $7,500 for clean-up crews and possible street closure crews. The department also estimated a budget deficit of $35,000 since all police officers will have to be on call for the four-day weekend.