Last year at this time, Boulder Police were on high alert for fear that the annual Naked Pumpkin Run and a revival of the Boulder Mall Crawl on Halloween would lead to chaos. Two Mall Crawl organizers even received a personal visit from Boulder's police chief.
In the end, the events were relatively low-key. But the BPD will be ready for trouble this weekend.
"We are definitely expecting a lot of activity on both Saturday and Sunday," says City of Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley. "So police have made plans to provide extra staffing throughout the weekend. We'll have extra officers on hand should anything happen -- but we're very hopeful that, given the good experiences we had last year, everybody will have a peaceful and enjoyable time."
The Boulder Mall Crawl Facebook page, which last year called for a resurgence of an event that was banned in 1991 because of unruly, oversized crowds and damage to businesses, declares that "the city violated the constitutional rights of the two people who created this group in an effort to try to stop an amazing party" -- a reference to the aforementioned visits and other attendant warnings about liability for costs directed at Ryan Van Duzer and Jonathan Sackheim, the page's creators.
Nonetheless, Van Duzer and Sackheim loved how Halloween on the mall went down last year -- the crowd was estimated at 4,000 -- and they're hoping to build on their success. The page's intro item states, "For 2010, not that we control it or speak for everybody, we merely suggest that you show up on Pearl St on the night of Sat, Oct 30. Do it to celebrate Halloween and to support Free Speech.
"We encourage mainly locals to come out as the parking garages will likely be shuttered, making it hard to drive in," the intro continues. "Let's have as much fun as possible and show how we can come together as a community by being respectful of each other, the police, and Boulder's property to have an epic Mall Crawl on Pearl St!"
Huntley's hopeful this focus on Boulderites will help prevent the party from spinning out of bounds. "The organizers are talking about it being a local community event, as opposed to attracting big crowds from other communities, which is where we've had problems in the past -- crowds so large and unmanageable that we've had situations develop that we'd like to avoid."
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Regarding last year's Naked Pumpkin Run, it was more of a not-quite-naked pumpkin stroll with few participants. Since then, at the urging of Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett, Boulder's city council passed a new nudity ordinance that allows for anyone exposing their genitals in such a setting to be cited for public nudity but not automatically branded as a sex offender.
On the surface, this change would seem to make a 2010 Naked Pumpkin Run more likely -- but thus far, Huntley says, "we haven't heard very much about that." She adds that a handful of people have been charged under the new nudity rules to date, but "this would certainly be the first larger testing of it, assuming that it happens. But we're hopeful that people will understand there are members of the community who would really prefer not to see a naked pumpkin run."
Huntley adds that the police aren't releasing specific numbers of officers expected to be on the Pearl Street Mall on Saturday and Sunday "for tactical reasons -- and also because we don't want to ratchet things up beyond what they might already be. But we're expecting crowds and will be prepared for whatever happens."
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