Thousands of Halloween revelers took to the streets of Isla Vista in full force on Friday and Saturday to celebrate the upcoming holiday and share in the spectacle of the community’s most infamous party.
Students from UCSB and Santa Barbara City College – as well as those from out of town – clogged Del Playa Drive and, to a lesser extent, Sabado Tarde Road, between approximately 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on both nights. Although I.V. Foot Patrol representatives said official statistics regarding crime and medical emergency rates for the weekend are not yet available, SB County Sheriff’s Dept. Sgt. Erik Raney said he estimated that some 90 arrests and 150 citations were issued on Friday night alone.
University of California, Santa Cruz third-year anthropology major Christina Strong said that I.V.’s Halloween lived up to her expectations and made her trip well worth the four-and-a-half hour drive.
“It was crazy, but we had so much fun,” she said. “There were a lot of police, though.”
In anticipation of the crowds that traditionally fill the streets during the holiday, the UC Police Dept., Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. and I.V. Foot Patrol brought in a combined total of over 150 officers to patrol the scene and help maintain a safe and peaceful environment.
Between Friday and Sunday, parking was prohibited on DP and Sabado Tarde Road, and blockades were set up to prevent vehicular traffic on those streets after 6 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday night. Additionally, emergency medical teams set up a response station on Camino Pescadero, where they distributed free water bottles to the passing parades of often swaying partiers.
Third-year SBCC communication major Kelsey Haggerty, who lives on DP, said she experienced the increased law enforcement presence firsthand.
She said out of the 20 or so out-of-towners staying with her and her roommates between Thursday and Friday in their two-bedroom apartment, two received minor in possession citations. Additionally, her house received a noise violation for which she and her three roommates were charged $140.
After four days of hosting their many guests, Haggerty said she and her roommates are glad the weekend is over.
“We had to hire a maid to clean the house,” Haggerty said. “It was that disgusting. … I’m just so glad that everyone is finally gone. I’m not having any more visitors for at least two months.”
Isla Vista’s Halloween has drawn visitors for over 30 years. The holiday’s infamy peaked in 1992, after Playboy magazine listed it as one of the “best parties in America” the year before. That year, some 50,000 people flooded into Isla Vista, overwhelming the community’s resources and local law enforcement. The resulting chaos and riots prompted law enforcement officials to take a stronger position in regulating the crowds.
In recent years, county officials have implemented several ordinances in an attempt to regulate the Halloween festivities. In 2002, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed a year-round Nuisance Party Ordinance that allows police to give citations to hosts whose guests commit at last three violations. Such infractions include open displays of kegs visible from the street or window, body-slamming, the throwing of objects and crowd-surfing. In August, the supervisors proposed adding furnishing alcohol to minors, nudity, arson and urinating in public to the list of violations.
Additionally, the county implemented an Outdoor Festival ordinance, which requires I.V. residents to refrain from playing loud music from 6 p.m. until 7 a.m. during the Halloween festivities.