Halloween- the one day a year when we can dress up and be whoever we want without judgment. Guys get to be Greek gods, wanted by all and ladies get to tap into their inner bad-girl and be a sexy rendition of their choice.
But between the costumes, masks, candy and large amounts of alcohol that's present during Halloweekend, a fun night of pretending can turn into something right out of a Halloween horror movie.
Tyrone Parham, the Chief of Police at Pennsylvania State University, knows the horror that can accompany Halloween all to well.
Parham says the craziness of Halloween depends on when it falls. If it falls on a weekday, it could make all the difference, however, if it falls on a weekend, the trend is that Halloween night quickly becomes a weekend-long affair. He also said that whether or not there is a home football game also contributes to the chaos that could ensue.
With a student population of about 45,000 and the surrounding community being a total college-town, Parham says the biggest issue is alcohol. Because Halloween can quickly turn into a multiple-night holiday, students justify drinking more in order to celebrate.
Parham says the crime statistics during Halloween are consistent with any bigger party weekends. PSU police see more underage drinking, DUIs and public intoxication.
They also see assaults, which Parham attributes to the anonymity costumes and masks lend the assailants.
“Each year we have random assaults, where the person is wearing a hockey jersey or some type of costume,” Parham said.
This is both good and bad; there is no way to identify the suspect because of the costume but if the costume is something unique or strange the police can be on the lookout for it.
“People are anonymous because they have a costume on,” Parham said.
Parham recalls an example of this from a few years ago. A man dressed in a banana costume assaulted another student and wound up in the stands at a football game assaulting others. The police released a message over the Jumbotron to have students look out for a man in a big banana suit eventually caught the suspect.
Other than banana suits, popular costumes that Parham sees at PSU include various football jerseys, with the popularity of certain numbers changing depending on the year.
For safety on Halloween, Parham has a few suggestions. His number one tip: go out in groups. When you go out with a group of people you all have each other’s backs and can look out for one another.
Another crucial tip: when you go out in a group, stay in it and leave with that same group. Assaults often happen on the way home from parties Parham said, so not leaving alone is important.
Also, choose a sensible costume, one that doesn’t obstruct your vision or is hard to walk in and as hard as it may be during the Halloween festivities, not drinking a lot, knowing your limits and sticking to them can make or break your safety for the night.
Parham always recommends utilizing taxis, buses or your campus’s police escort services to ensure that you have a safe night and don’t wind up as another Halloween horror story.
Image: Massachuetts Public Safety