Halloween

Carolina students began celebrating Halloween with an informal gathering on Franklin Street in the 1980s. Town police closed off the main blocks of Franklin Street for an informal parade of costumed students. Within a decade it was the biggest party of the year. By the early 1990s attendance was growing as students from other universities flocked to Chapel Hill. Word spread, and it quickly grew into a very big event. By the late 1990s Chapel Hill Police were estimating crowds of between 40,000 and 60,000 people. The peak was probably in 2007, when an estimated 80,000 people crowded into downtown. Concerned about increasing costs for crowd control and crime (thirteen people were arrested in 2007), the university and town began promoting a "Homegrown Halloween," taking steps to limit the size of the crowds. By the 2010s the Halloween crowds had been reduced to a still large but more manageable average of 20,000—30,000 students.