“Oh my God, is that Chancellor Yang who just walked by you? Oh my God, it is.”
Stares, camera clicks and the occasional question about whether it was really him followed Chancellor Henry Yang down Del Playa Drive and around the Embarcadero loop Saturday night, as he walked the streets for his annual Halloween tour. As he winded his way through the crowds, the chancellor chatted with emergency services, doctors, patrolling officers, UCSB students and out-of-towners, the latter of which he said made up about 80 percent of the night’s party scene.
“I took a picture with a student last night, and today I got an e-mail from his mother. She said, ‘I love your school. I don’t like my son drinking so much but seeing you makes me know he’s safe.’ Parents entrust their children to us,” Yang said while walking past the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. field booking area at Embarcadero Hall.
Joined by his wife Dilling Yang and UCSB researcher and award-winning mathematician Michael Freedman, the chancellor surveyed the streams of costumed partiers, packed balconies and police barricades – common sights on an uncommon, yet famous, I.V. weekend.
The emergency medical services tent pitched in the parking lot of Nespor’s University Auto House was the first stop on the chancellor’s walk. The medical team treated about nine patients on Friday night and by 10:30 p.m. on Saturday had treated about three more, said Nancy Lapolla, director of Santa Barbara County Emergency Medical Services. She said all the patients were there as a result of consuming too much alcohol.
“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Lapolla said of the tent. “Last year we handled every call as a 911 call. That sucked up our resources. It sent all of the ambulances in the system to here.”
At both the tent and across the street at the field booking area, Yang asked for statistics and general facts on what the county has to do for safety purposes during Halloween. He said he wanted the information for the UCSB I.V. Commission to consider.
“I’m worried about student safety,” he said.
After saying hello to a UC Irvine Police Dept. officer he recognized from previous Halloweens and UC Regents meetings, Yang’s entourage headed down El Embarcadero into the pedestrian traffic jam on D.P. Yang pointed out television news crews along the way, including a Fox 11 News van.
Costumes ranged from short-skirted Little Red Riding Hoods to bananas, Waldos, Playboy Bunnies and Hugh Hefners, 1920s gangsters, Kevin Federline, South Park’s Towelie and a fatally-wounded Steve Irwin. Even Moses made his I.V. debut with rewritten commandments including “Be excellent to each other.”
One reveler wearing a G-string jumped in front of the chancellor and bounced continuously until his costume failed to cover its intended area. Another inebriated man asked Freedman for a piggyback ride, which the mathematician declined to give.
To prove his point about the number of out-of-towners, Yang approached group after group of college-aged men and women asking where they were from. The majority of those questioned admitted to being from schools other than UCSB or Santa Barbara City College. However, one said he was a UCSB archaeology major, while another claimed he was an advertising major.
“We don’t have an advertising major,” Yang said to the out-of-towner.
Upon reaching the 6700 block of D.P., the group walked up to Sabado Tarde Road and headed back toward the Embarcadero loop. Besides being passed by a county search and rescue team carrying a stretcher, the chancellor stopped to talk to students who proved themselves to be actual attendees of UCSB.
“Everybody coming together, having fun together,” Joseph Messmer, a second-year marine biology major dressed as a “Sexy Beast,” said to the chancellor. “There’s a lot of out-of-towners so that’s not good. … Just because it’s not their home town, they’re disrespectful.”
Continuing down Sabado Tarde Road to Camino Pescadero, Yang had another photo opportunity with a dozen smiling students, one of which had to explain to his friend that Yang is “in charge of the, um, of UCSB.”
“That was awesome, dude,” the student said as he walked toward D.P.
To end his tour, Yang returned to the medical services tent to check on any new patients – of which there were four – and headed off, passing by colorful costumes and characters.