Isla Vista’s infamous Halloween festivities attracted crowds of 12,000 to 15,000 people on the peak nights of Thursday and Friday, according to data just released by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
The numbers fell far below the estimates made by local officials, as law enforcement and Santa Barbara County officials were expecting crowds to reach as high as 40,000. By Saturday, attendance dwindled down to just 6,000 to 8,000 people — a drop in attendance that corresponds with an observed decline in the number of out-of-towners who arrived for the weekend. Nevertheless, Isla Vista Foot Patrol — along with police brought in from elsewhere in the state — made a number of arrests, including 225 jail books, 173 of which were for public intoxication. Law enforcement issued 249 citations — 95 of which were for minor in possession — and responded to 20 search and rescue calls, while emergency personnel responded to 48 medical calls, with 42 patients transported to the hospital.
Along Highway 101, California Highway Patrol handed out 414 citations and made 18 arrests, half of which were for driving under the influence.
In Goleta, Saturation Patrol funded through AVOID the 12 — a DUI operations program — made 145 traffic stops, 2 DUI arrests and administered 40 citations, 10 of which were for minor in possession and 16 of which were for open containers.
This year’s lower turnout and reduction of major accidents could be explained by student organization campaigns such as Associated Students’ “Keep it Local, Keep it Safe,” as well as parents’ weekend and midterms at UCSB coinciding with Halloween weekend, according to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office.
“In all, it was a very safe Halloween for I.V. residents, law enforcement and our other partners that were involved,” Lieutenant Robert Plastino of Isla Vista Foot Patrol said in an email.
However, some students had a less favorable opinion of this year’s event, as third-year psychology major Elizabeth Dang blamed the strict noise ordinance for the perceived decrease in enjoyment from previous years. However, Dang also said enforcement of the ordinance was a trade-off for increased order and protection.
“Security-wise, it improved a lot; but fun-wise, it sucked … People just kind of stood on their balconies and people-watched,” she said. “I live on D.P. and I was really scared for my house … [but] it was actually really calm. Nothing bad happened.”
A version of this article appeared on page 1 of the Tuesday, November 5, 2013 print edition of the Daily Nexus.