Traditionally characterized by cobbled streets and historic, brick townhouses, quaint Fells Point assumes a more sinister and festive role on Halloween night. Home to the largest concentration of bars in Baltimore, Fells Point attracts a varied crowd — included many Hopkins students — that seeks to celebrate at what has become the largest Halloween gathering in the city.
Hundreds of people gather at local bars and restaurants in and around Fells Point Square during Halloween night. Local radio station 98Rock hosts an annual costume contest and all attendees are encouraged to arrive in costume.
“Most of the city is in Fells Point that night. There are a lot of costumes everywhere, it’s like a miniature Halloweentown,” sophomore Brad Hunt said.
Street closures allow pedestrians to navigate freely around the Square and many businesses remain open late to benefit from the large crowds.
“Every store, every bar and all the local businesses are open,” said Hunt. “It is sort of a pub crawl type of thing. There are a lot of people going in and out of the bars.”
Although the celebrations in Fells Point attract large crowds that stimulate local businesses, incidents of public urination, noise violations and recklessness brought about by intoxication have provoked the ire of many residents and visitors alike.
Partygoers seeking alcohol, entertainment and atmosphere inundate Fells Point Square. However, as greater numbers of people flock to Fells Point each year to partake in the festivities, the need for increased crowd control and law enforcement has become more apparent.
In a 2010 interview with local news station WBALTV, Lt. Col. Garnell Green of the Baltimore City Police underscored the harmful actions of the partygoers that have drawn criticism from many.
To placate those discontent with the destructive nature of the large crowds, the Baltimore City Police has increased its presence in Fells Point during the Halloween festivities and has undertaken extensive measures to resolve many pressing issues.
The police have approximately two hundred officers on duty during the event to maintain order. The officers utilize citations and fines to discourage reckless actions. Additionally, over one hundred port-o-potties are set up as a means to curb public urination.
While many local residents view the event with disdain, local business owners and workers offer a contrasting view.
“I believe it’s beneficial for the area, it encourages people to come to Fells Point,” Randy Sherman, manager of Kooper’s Tavern on Thames Street, said. “You know, when you think of Halloween, you think of coming to the bars.”
Not only do the Halloween celebrations during Halloween night and Halloween weekend increase the number of visitors to the Fells Point area, but they also increase profits for local businesses.
“This Saturday night we had a great night,” Sherman said. “We were up 40 percent over the Saturday before.”
Any yet, those involved in local businesses remain sympathetic towards the complaints of the residents and attendants.
“We have additional security come in for the weekend,” Sherman said. “Whether it’s Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day, all of the holidays you associate with people going out and celebrating, you have an increase in disruptive occurrences that don’t happen frequently.”
Matt Zazodny, manager of the Greene Turtle on South Broadway, which hosts Halloween parties the Saturday before Halloween and Halloween night, also expressed concern regarding the misconduct.
“To an extent, I think its great for business because we’re packed all night,” Zazodny said. “However, there are pros and cons. People do come in and get drunk and start fights.”
And while the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy may threaten the success of this year’s Fells Point celebrations, many are confident that the Halloween festivities will continue unaffected. The Student Government Association still provided buses to and from the area for students, like they do every year.
“It’s frustrating to have the weather come in before the holiday, but we’re open and we plan on staying open and weathering the storm,” Sherman said. “We have two generators up and both our businesses will stay open.”