KENT: Ghosts and goblins will be out in droves tonight, particularly in downtown Kent.
The city is preparing for its biggest night of the year. Thousands of college students, families and the curious — perhaps 25,000 people, by some estimates — will pack downtown bars, restaurants, sidewalks and streets.
More than 100 officers from the Kent police, Portage County Sheriff’s Office, a SWAT team from multiple jurisdictions, Kent State police, Brimfield police, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Ohio liquor control will be working.
That’s up dramatically from a typical Saturday night in the college town, when a mere seven or eight officers would be on duty, Kent Lt. Jim Prusha said.
“The event is nothing that we sanction,” he said, but tradition has made it the biggest night of the year for costumed partyers who move among a dozen or so downtown bars and in recent years have edged closer to the KSU campus for their revelry.
Kent police again will have a PARTA bus and a portable potty in their parking lot for partyers who have too good a time.
They’ll stay in the holding station “until there’s time for them to come into our booking room, where hopefully they can get a signature bond and wait for a ride out of there,” Prusha said.
Some partyers might not make it home: The Kent city jail accommodates six to 10 and the county sheriff’s office will ferry overflow to the county jail via a van.
Kent State officials and student leaders walk door-to-door to speak with students about acting responsibly, KSU spokeswoman Emily Vincent said.
“We emphasize the need of being good neighbors and discuss the negative impacts and dangers of excessive drinking,” she said.
There will be some comic relief in the night, Prusha said, as it’s easier for officers to identify fleeing suspects who are dressed like dalmatians or cows or Peter Pan.
“I know that it’ll be busy and a lot of fun,” said Tom Creech, manager of Ray’s Place, one of the mainstays of the festivities.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-996-3729.