Thousands of costumed — and barely costumed — revelers will pack the streets and sidewalks of downtown Kent tonight for the city's unofficial Halloween celebration.
Hundres are sure to drink too much, and a select few will spend part of their night in jail.
While hundreds more are sure to lose a wallet, ID, cell phone or, if their lucky, just a part of their costume.
Here are my tips for having a safe and happy time downtown. Trust me, I know a thing or two about Halloween in Kent. I've been attending it for years and been covering it as a journalist for almost as many.
- Travel with friends. If you're walking, that's great. Make sure you stick with your friends throughout the night. There will be thousands of people downtown and if you're new to Kent it's easy to get lost — especially if you've had a few drinks.
- Leave your costume weapons at home. Close to 100 uniformed officers will be stationed throughout downtown to keep the peace, and if they see anything that could be used as a weapon they will confiscate it — and potentially arrest you. That means no swords, chainsaws, guns or other weapons.
- Don't drive. Parking is already at a premium in downtown Kent, and with thousands of out-of-towners swarming for Halloween it's going to get even tougher. If you're in town, walk. It's safer and eliminates the chance of drunken driving. If you're too far away to walk, take a cab. There will be plenty available tonight. Plus, traffic turns into a stand-still on the streets leading into downtown starting at about 9:30 p.m.
- Get there early. If you are driving, the earlier you get to Kent the easier it is to find a parking space. But this is better advice if you want to spend the night in a bar. Many of the bars will be monitoring their capacity closely, which means if you get to your favorite bar when it's already full you'll end up standing in line in the cold for potentially hours.
- Avoid masks. If you do want to spend the night inside the bars, you'll want to wear a costume that either doesn't include a mask or has a mask that's easy to take off. Bouncers want to see your face when they check your ID — which they will be ckecking — and most bars don't let you wear masks inside.
- Don't mess with the cops. The dozens of police officers who will be stationed throughout downtown Kent are there just to keep the peace. That means they really won't be doing much of anything but breaking up fights if they encounter one. Remember, these men and women are good people who are stuck working on a cold night when they would rather be having fun. Be nice to them and they'll be nice to you.
- Stay away from construction areas. Private security details have been hired by the city and others to watch over the many downtown construction sites. These places are dangerous, and you could get in trouble for trespassing if you wander into a construction area.
- Drink in moderation. My final piece of advice to you is probably the most important for many. Don't drink too much! Your night is more likely to end badly, either with your head in the toilet or in the drunk tank at the Kent Police Department. Enjoy tonight, but don't drink so much you can't remember all the amazingly cool costumes you're going to see.
And don't forget to upload photos of your costume to Patch's costume contest. You could win $5,000!