A number of Fells Point bars and retailers are turning in early for Halloween, with owners foreseeing some of the same chaos that’s tarnished the neighborhood’s Oct. 31 festivities in recent years.
“The situation here has gotten so out of hand as far as crowd control,” said Bill Packo, owner of The Greene Turtle on S. Broadway. “There’s drinking in the street, proliferation of smoking pot. It’s just a party atmosphere with no control over it whatsoever.”
Pot aside, there’s plenty of concern out there about a continued pattern of violence. Last year, a 22-year-old woman was shot in the foot in the 400 block of S. Broadway, near Upper Fells Point. Several blocks closer to the harbor, three people were stabbed, leaving one hospitalized in critical condition.
Gunfire also erupted the year before in the 600 block of S. Broadway. Police recovered a gun and arrested a man trying to run from the scene.
Packo’s bar is among 20 or so that are shutting down early, he said. He’s closing up as soon as happy hour ends at 7 p.m. Max’s Taphouse, normally open until 2 a.m. on Tuesday, posted on Facebook that it’s shutting its doors five and a half hours early. Alexander’s Tavern is hosting a Halloween party, though last call is at 9 p.m., and doors close at 9:30 p.m. “for a staff appreciation night,” according to a Facebook event.
Police plan to be ready tonight with a “large deployment of officers in and around the area as well as the entire city,” Det. Jeremy Silbert said in a statement.
Packo said he and other business owners in the neighborhood had pushed for the city to institute a process of helping to control the flow of partygoers: “Streets would be blocked off, they would have checked bags, carded people, charged a cover charge to get in, and had a costume contest or something.”
The merchants submitted a plan to the Department of Transportation, but the agency declined, Packo said.
Another big issue they had hoped to resolve is the late-night bathroom situation. 98 Rock hosted a costume contest in the square for several years and paid for port-a-potties, according to Packo, but he says the station decided not to host one this year, in part due to construction in the square.
He and others had hoped the plan they submitted to DOT would have used some of the money made from cover charges to pay for portable bathrooms.
“So now it’s just, OK, here we are at square one,” he said.
Fells Point Main Street, a nonprofit devoted to promoting and strengthening the neighborhood’s commercial district, hasn’t returned a message requesting comment.
Silbert’s statement said police “are aware that some businesses made the decision to close,” but it “certainly was not a recommendation from the police department.”
The hope, he said, is that those are out late in Fells Point tonight will practice “personal responsibility and accountability.”
“We urge people who observe behavior that could be construed as dangerous to call us,” he added.
This story has been updated.
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