As Athens' block party returns this year, Ohio University students eagerly dress up in their best costumes and prepare to party.
OU freshmen, sophomores and juniors have yet to experience the annual block party because the city of Athens canceled it in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the updates on Halloween events from Friday and Saturday.
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Many students are excited to participate in Halloween festivities this year without COVID-19 restrictions.
The block party is back in action for the first time in two years. People are fully anticipating experiencing the renowned party tomorrow, Oct. 29.
"I am actually very excited because I came in as a freshman in the 2020 school year and that was really hard," Maggie Nolan, a junior studying psychology, said. "So many different people were telling me the block party was so fun, and we never had that. … Now this year, first-time and I'm just so excited."
Bailey Lint, a senior studying English, was dressed up as the Marvel character, Thor. She said she is excited about this year's Halloween because she is of the legal drinking age.
The last time Lint took part in OU's block party she was a freshman in college. Lint expects this year's block party to be more fun because she now has a bigger group of friends to celebrate with.
Between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., not many people were on Court Street. Slowly, groups of people would pass through uptown to go to house parties. However, the businesses and bars on Court Street are expected to face large crowds soon.
Alexis McCollum, Athens resident and The Pigskin Bar and Grill bartender manager, is unsure of what this Halloween weekend will entail.
"I'm kind of thrown off by it, I don't know what's going to happen," McCollum said. "I'm really back and forth about the situation. I'm excited. I just want everyone to be careful and safe."
Simairlily, Gina Mammone, a senior studying communication and a server manager at The Pigskin Bar and Grill, is excited to watch the Halloween festivities unfold from a bartender's perspective.
"I wanted to be in the heart of things," Mammone said. "I'm not a big partier. I don't like to go out all the time. So being in the heart of things and still being able to socialize with coworkers and friends and see everything, see all the costumes and everything. You're right in the heart of things, but you don't have to expose yourself to any of the dangers."
McCollum also wanted to feel connected with the celebrations at OU while making money, too.
"It's a great atmosphere," McCollum said. "That's why I got a job here. So I could work in the same atmosphere but make money and not spend the money."
Taylor Neiman, an employee at GoodFella's Pizza, located at 35 N. Court St., is expecting a steady rush all night. Neiman predicted that the late-night restaurant would be busier than usual due to the increase of people visiting OU this weekend.
Neiman also said he sees many more disturbances around Halloween weekend.
"There will always be (trouble) on Halloween, especially with the out-of-towners that come in because they are a little bit crazier than the people that live here," Neiman said.
Around 8:30 p.m., more people began to flock toward Court Street. Bouncers of bars started to stand outside the bars in preparation.
A second-year master's student studying journalism, Qiuyang Li, is participating in her first Halloween at OU. Li is an international student from China and she said the atmosphere is extremely different in America.
"I really like the atmosphere (here)," Li said. "Americans are so serious about Halloween. We also celebrate in China, but not that seriously because people just wear a simple costume."
Jacob Lamp, an Athens resident, was hanging out around Court Street early in the night. He explained how he is ready to kickstart this weekend.
"(Halloween is the) best time of the year," Lamp said. "Homecoming, Halloween, two of the best times at OU. You gotta be there."
12 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The streets of Athens were packed with excited, costumed partiers and night owls Friday night as a colorful cast of characters took to the streets to usher in the return of the famous Athens Halloween block party.
Among those in the bustling crowds were characters like Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Gang, Elvis Presley, and Breaking Bad’s Walter White. All were excited for the tradition of Athens Halloween to return to normal after its COVID-19 hiatus.
Ian Herwig, a freshman dressed as the imposter from the video game Among Us, said his plans included picking up a friend and attending Saturday night’s block party afterward.
A couple of girls were walking to parties on Mill Street around 11 p.m. Friday, dressed as Mary Magdalene and a lion.
“Tonight we are hanging out with our friends … but tomorrow is the big night,” Madeline Daley, a sophomore at OU, said.
Daley and her friend, Olivia Kaiser, a freshman at OU, are part of the OU Catholics.
“We open up the church on Saturday night and then we invite people to come pray for a certain intention with us,” said Daley. “We give out free grilled cheese and hot chocolate, called a blaze.”
Kaiser said her expectations for Halloween at OU have been met and assumed it would be the way it was.
OU organizations were also out and about Friday night, many of which were giving out free food or selling food.
Julia Platt, a sophomore studying English, was dressed as a tooth fairy and was giving out free pancakes with the H2O Church organization.
“I’m excited because I know they are having events for people to go to so that's pretty exciting for everyone,” said Platt. “Especially because last year with COVID we didn’t really get a whole lot, so yes I am really excited.”
Two students walking through College Green dressed as the energizer bunny and Ralphie from the Christmas story said they didn’t really have high expectations, especially since it was only the first night of events.
12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Along Court Street Saturday afternoon, families gathered to participate in the Athens Arts, Parks and Recreation Department’s Halloween family activities, which started at 1 p.m.
Katherine Ann Jordan, director of Athens Arts, Parks and Recreation, said to her knowledge, this is the first time the group has programmed family activities during the day.
“We had a really good time planning this. There’s already lots of people coming through (and) asking questions about what this is,” Jordan said. “I think we’re going to have a really good turnout.”
Anne Morrice, a resident of Columbus, said she heard about the block party through a friend who volunteers at Passion Works Studio. Morrice said her friend had mentioned the Honey for the Heart parade that the studio has put on for the past 10 years.
Patty Mitchell, executive director of Passion Works Studio and co-founder of Honey for the Heart, said the Honey for the Heart group can be considered as the kickoff for the block party.
“When the block party started getting cordoned off … there was this natural stage and early in the evening, not much goes on,” Mitchell said. “We thought, let’s fill that space. Let’s love Athens’ Halloween. Let’s love it into beauty.”
Madalyn Blair, Jack Solon, Suzanne Piper and Payton Daugherty contributed to this report.