Halloween 2021 looked different than years past.
On Sept. 27, the city of Athens announced that no Halloween block party events would take place this year. However, that has not stopped Ohio University students from hitting the bars and throwing parties of their own.
Here are the updates of events from Halloween on Saturday:
12 p.m. – 2 p.m.
Despite the cancelation of the block party, people were still out in costumes around noon Saturday, with the majority of people at house parties on Mill Street.
A group of girls at 119 Mill St. were getting ready for the day’s festivities and were dressed up in costumes at around 12:45 p.m.
“I think we are just gonna do whatever, just kind of bounce around and see what’s going on, you know, whatever looks fun,” Lindsey Stagg, a junior studying exercise physiology, said.
A group of friends dressed as Rocky Balboa and Rocky’s trainer, Mickey Goldmill, from the Rocky films and Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, were on their way to a party on Mill Street and had plans for later in the day.
“Last year, everything was all different, not just Halloween but everything in general,” Mara Sheffel, a senior studying marketing said. “This year, we'll go out to Mill, and then go to bars later.”
Freshman Ohio University students were also excited about Halloween this year. However, some wished that they could have experienced the block party.
“I wish they were having the block party, sadly, so I want to see that really bad,” Audrey Schwanenberg, a freshman studying pre-nursing, said. “I guess it’s kind of a disappointment, but I also haven’t experienced that.”
Additionally, some students were planning on bringing friends down for Halloween but were unable to due to the university’s guidelines that state off-campus guests are not permitted in residence halls this weekend.
“I wish I could bring at least one friend down,” Lauren Castro, a freshman studying pre-nursing said. “Even if we could show like vaccination cards or something to get them down, that'd be nice.”
Many other people were at Uptown Costumes, 12 S. Court St., at around 12 p.m. One of the store’s employees declined to comment due to how busy the store was at the time.
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Later Saturday, students and others could still be found in costumes, walking in and around Uptown Athens to celebrate the Halloween weekend.
Nora Haycook, a sophomore studying history pre-law, dressed up as Mermaid Man from “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Haycook said she was on her way to meet a friend after visiting a couple house parties.
She said the house parties were fun and that she made a lot of friends but was staying away from fraternities.
“Frats have kind of a bad reputation,” Haycook said. “I am a woman; I am not going to put myself there.”
Haycook also said she did not enjoy going out on Friday evening because “people were being “extra creepy.”
Casey Rees, a junior studying music production, compared Halloween weekend 2021 to last year’s in the fact that the annual block party was canceled. He said house parties were “crazy” in 2020, with so many people partying in backyards.
Rees was dressed as an astronaut with his friends, who were an alien and a soccer player.
“Mainly, the objective tonight is just drinking with my buddies,” Rees said
Another group on Mill Street included Nat Castello, a junior studying sociology who uses they/them pronouns, and their partner dressed as characters from the Wes Anderson film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.”
Castello, who has not gotten to experience the annual block party since their freshman year, said they would have liked the city to have the block party but completely understands why it was necessary for it to be canceled for the past two years.
“I feel like there’s still enough going on,” Castello said. “Especially with how many people the block party draws from out of campus, I feel like that makes sense.”
Having gone to fraternity parties at Ohio State University the night before, Castello also said they usually have more fun at intimate parties with her friends at OU.
Brad Kennedy, a senior studying political science and a bouncer at Red Brick Tavern, 14 N. Court St., got into the spirit of Halloween by dressing up as a plumber. He said in his experience working during Halloween weekend, there is typically an influx in the amount of people on Court Street. He said that increases the amount of people coming into Red Brick as well.
“It’s a special weekend out of the year. You generally have more people coming in, especially with people from outside of Ohio University coming in,” Kennedy said. “There’s definitely an increase in traffic.”
Kennedy said there is an increased police presence during the weekend in and around the bar, which makes it important that he and his coworkers stay vigilant about who they let into the bar. He said that is important so everyone inside can have a good time and so patrons and the establishment itself don’t get in trouble.
After a year without much on-campus activity, Kennedy said this year’s Halloween weekend seemed to have much more activity on Court Street than he has seen recently, even with the block party being canceled by the city for the second year in a row.
Despite the cancelation, Kennedy said he doesn’t believe that the city has always been consistent in its COVID-19 protocol.
“It’s a little disappointing. And honestly, it’s a little confusing. I understand the town’s concerns with COVID mitigations, but then we also have instances where the university will pack Peden Stadium (and) no one’s wearing a mask,” Kennedy said. “What’s the difference?”
12 a.m. - 2 a.m.
In the early hours of the morning, Halloween party goers could still be seen in large numbers out on Court Street.
Earlier house parties on Mill Street had quieted down, driving many Uptown. Dozens of patrons stood in line for bars and frequented food establishments.
Cole Jackson, visiting from Lancaster, Ohio with his friends, said he was bar hopping after visiting a few house parties earlier in the night. Jackson had visited Athens for Halloween a few years ago, pre-COVID-19, and said that this year was still fun.
“It’s pretty lit,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of people out here.”
Ross Holter, a lieutenant of the Athens Police Department, said that the night had not been as busy as expected. In comparison to previous years, Holter noted that more underclassmen were out.
“It’s a little more busy (now),” Holter said. “I think a lot of people were experiencing their first Halloween, especially (for the) freshman and sophomore class.”
Holter also said the department had not had to handle many incidents throughout the night, but there had been an increase just after midnight.
Around 12:40 a.m., an ambulance responded to an occurrence at the Valero gas station on the corner of Court Street and Mill Street. An individual appeared to be unconscious and was transported into the ambulance by police and EMTs. Officers and acquaintances of the individual declined to comment.
Curtis Auto Repair and Towing was spotted working in the area and seen several times towing cars from a lot on Mill Street.
Natalie McTheron, a member of H2O Church of Athens, was out on Court Street handing out water and pancakes to students and party goers walking in the area.
“Our biggest hope this Halloween is just to serve people,” McTheron said.
Addie Hedges, Lydia Colvin, Alex Imwalle, Paige Fisher, Donovan Hunt, Tre Spencer, Sophie Young and Anna Millar contributed to this report.
Clarification: A previous version of this article neglected to clarify that Castello uses they/them pronouns. This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.