Halloween events will have some changes for the weekend events with more of a focus on being inclusive of all ages in Athens.
Events will be starting earlier this year and then transition to the normal Halloween festivities with concert stages on Court Street in the evening.
“We are trying to rebrand Halloween a bit to give it more of a community feel,” Ron Lucas, deputy service safety director, said.
Brandon Thompson was hired by the city as the Halloween coordinator instead of being planned by the Clean and Safe Halloween Committee, which has been planning events for the past 30 years.
There will be an event Friday on top of the Athens Parking Garage, 7 E. Washington St., from 6 p.m. until midnight. The top two floors of the parking garage will have DJ’s playing various subgenres of EDM. The event is free and is exclusive for people over 18. There will also be a beer garden at the garage for people over 21.
The newest edition to the main Halloween Block Party is the beer garden that will take place on the same block. People can buy Budweiser, White Claw, Michelob Ultra, Jackie O’s, Blue Moon and other drinks. It will cost $5 a drink and will last from 1-11 p.m.
Lucas said the permit for the beer garden allows people to buy alcohol and drink it in the designated area. People can not bring in their own alcohol.
Starting at 6 p.m., daytime festivities will close, but the beer garden will continue until 11 p.m.
The block on West Union Street between South Court Street and South Congress Street will have family-friendly activities from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
Thompson said a lot of people have staying away because there is nothing for them to do Uptown. Now, there will be events for all ages.
“We're basically trying to create a kind of a carnival feel,” Thompson said.
There will be a ‘Kiddie Dance Party’ hosted by Rockin Reggie and DJ B-Funk and include line dances and contests for kids. The Athens Public Library will have other festivities including face painting, live reptiles and cookie decorating.
Lucas said the e-scooter company Spin will unveil scooters for people to test out from 1 p.m. until about 5:30 p.m. before the parade starts.
The Honey for the Heart Parade will start at 6 p.m. and will march down Court Street, Lucas said.
The north and south stages on Court Street will be set up at 6 p.m. and close by 11 p.m. The north stage by Courtside Pizza, 85 N. Court St., will feature live bands. The south stage will be in front of Buffalo Wild Wings, 23 W. Union St., and feature DJs of various genres.
“We want to just kind of have more effort in terms of providing the catalyst for an entertaining event for everybody that lives here,” Lucas said.
Athens Police Department Chief Tom Pyle said Halloween organically shut down at about midnight last year. This year, bands on Court Street are scheduled to stop performing at about 11 p.m.
“It's attracted less and less people over the years, but I think the city is trying to rebrand it so move it into a daytime event,” Pyle said. “So maybe that it's a good time for that.”
APD still plans on a large crowd and brings in other outside agencies to help with crowd control.
Pyle said that since he has seen a decrease in attendance over the past couple of years, he would eventually like to not have to bring in other agencies. He isn’t anticipating anything in regards to crowd size but knows the rain could have an effect on the amount of people that attend.
City Councilman Peter Kotses said the city spends about $90,000 to bring in additional law enforcement to patrol the streets and make sure people are safe. Officers from outside agencies are brought in to assist the local departments with working overtime.
“This event, love it or hate it, has been a part of this community for over 40 years,” Kotses said. “We do our best to respect this tradition and keep it in check, so it doesn't become a bigger issue.”
Vinny Ramundo contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated the cost of the Athens Garage event. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.