City Seeks Alternatives to Hellish Halloween – November 8, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The morning after Halloween. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

PLAZA – What began as a sweet, colorful celebration of H Street’s re-opening on Halloween ended with a near-riot, dozens of arrests and unprecedented destruction to the Arcata Plaza.

As the last strains of the Marching Lumberjacks died down and the candy bags of trick-or-treating children swelled to maximum capacity, more than one kind of darkness fell on the Plaza.

Halloween night celebrants roved the town square, many with bottles in hand and their numbers swelling as the night wore on.

McKinley molested on Halloween. Photo courtesy Karen Nicole Echegaray

As the crowd grew denser, behavioral standards loosened until, as has become the standard for holiday Plaza celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, the more adventurous members of the crowd – mostly college-age youths – climbed up on the statue of President McKinley.

Several of the McKinley-mounters pretended to engage in sexual activity with the stoic statue, while one man reportedly urinated onto spectators from it.

Meanwhile, carefully cultivated planter boxes were thoroughly trampled by hordes of carousers. Numerous bottles were broken, the glass crunched into the Plaza grass.

Arcata Police made more than two dozen arrests (see below), though nowhere near the number of actual violations.

“There could have been hundreds of arrests,” said Lt. APD Ryan Peterson. He said that the 14 officers on duty arrested only those who were extremely intoxicated and a danger to themselves or others.

“We got outgunned,” Peterson said. “We did the best we could to prevent mayhem. The ones that were arrested were definitely arrestable.”

The individual who was reported to have jumped off the Alibi and broken his leg was actually a former guest who had been ejected from the Hotel Arcata. He’d apparently climbed up on the bar’s roof as part of a re-entry gambit, but, said Peterson, “He obviously didn’t make it.”

The Plaza was awash in broken glass and trash the next morning. KLH | Eye

The next morning, the crowds had dissipated, but their residue remained in the form of destroyed foliage, broken glass, overflowing garbage cans and a McKinley statue whose base was coated with multiple spray-painted tags.

“A wave of anger just swept over me,” said City Manager Randy Mendosa. This is a level of destruction I’ve never seen in my career in Arcata.”

He said that the City has to address the problem, because as bad as the destruction was, things could have taken an even uglier turn.

“The potential of what could have happened with that many intoxicated people crowded together and breaking bottles – one person does a stupid thing and you have a riot,” he said. “We can’t tolerate that.”

A Facebook user named Ken Holcomb identified himself on his page as the man who urinated on the Plaza crowd from the McKinley statue. Following an inquiry for confirmation, Holcomb didn't reply, but made his page private.

According to Parks Supt. Dan Diemer, some 51 bags of trash and recyclables totaling 3,000 pounds were removed from the Plaza. McKinley’s base was pressure-washed to remove the graffiti.

Public Works and Parks workers were diverted from other jobs to spend the day restoring the Plaza to safe use. This delayed or prevented other work from being done, including maintenance, construction, sports field preparation and other tasks.

The total cost of the cleanup, not including the destroyed landscaping, was $3,600, Diemer said.

City officials will address some of the problems during the monthly liaison meeting with Humboldt State officials tomorrow, Nov. 10.

A Community Meeting will be held Wednesday, Nov. 30 at 8 a.m. at City Hall to consider ideas for preventing a reoccurrence.

Mayor Susan Ornelas said counterprogramming might be one approach to abating the problem.

“Some ideas I have had are to hold a sanctioned event there, with wristbands to get in, have cool old, maybe black and white movies being shown on the walls of buildings around the Plaza,” she said. “I have also thought that HSU should have a really rockin’ reggae, or whatever great dance band up at the college that night… On the punitive side, I want to charge the bars and liquor stores something for their part in fueling the mayhem.”

She said she also wanted to set up a citizen group to study whether the City could invigorate the nighttime entertainment scene with more wholesome late-night entertainment alternatives.

Peterson said the Halloween celebrants are a different kind of animal. “This is a unique crowd,” he said. “It’s not like the 4-20 crowd or the New Year’s Eve crowd. It’s almost like they put on a Halloween mask and they can become lawless.”


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36 Responses to “City Seeks Alternatives to Hellish Halloween – November 8, 2011”

  1. ryan

    stop selling beer and alcohol at grocery and liquor stores after 12 noon on halloween.

  2. Peggy

    Arcata: What a crap hole.

  3. McCarthy

    This is the gentleman that peed off the statue.

  4. McCarthy

    Please delete my previous comment.

  5. McCarthy

    And replace it with this one:

  6. Rash Hussain

    Isn’t that the guy that ate some used condom on the ground behind the Alabi? He is a sick freak, probably caught AIDS.

  7. steve

    McCarthy, your kind use of the term “gentleman,” while mannerly, reeks of stale sarcasm when one views the lout that you reference with a link to his facebook page. Is this guy even of legal drinking age? His profile states that he graduated from high school in 2009. Perhaps he was held back, maybe due to some other social infractions identical to these. Through heresay, I truthfully admit, that one person who was there, said that the action of this miscreant peeing on the crowd actually set off the melee that resulted in the destruction on the Plaza. I do wonder if he has caught on to the inadvisability of posting such shenanigans so freely and openly on the internet. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Jeff

    Steve, McCarthy: Ken is a friend of mine and I was with him that night. He wasn’t the only person to pee off the statue, there was another man with a thick beard, around 25ish of age, he had on a pink flower dress, I’m pretty sure he was the guy that started the “melee” as he was peeing off the top of the statue and giving everybody the middle finger and cussing at them. Ken is of age, you are correct about being held back in school, though not because of things like what happened on Halloween night. Rash Hussain, he doesn’t have AIDS, im 100% sure of that and he isn’t the guy you’re talking about.

  9. Jeff

    Thank you for your time.

  10. Citizens of Arcata —

    I was deeply offended at the scandalous behavior and all the rubbish thrown about on All Hallows Eve. What was done to my statue was an affront, but I have been around the Plaza much longer than Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Phantom; let alone any of those ragamuffins, and they can’t touch me. I am more concerned that these young fellows don’t know who I am. I am not, as they might say, the Man. What I am, it might be more aptly put, is an anacronism. This is not, I want to tell you, the same as Undead. I am also concerned about what Halloween has become. The costumes once displayed in Arcata and elsewhere represented let us say, more the forces of imagination and whimsy than the forces of evil. Little children were dressed in the most tasteful costumes: brownies, pixies, forest sprites, and the like. In Arcata I was treated to an enormous variety of cakes and pies, certainly the finest in the land. Blackberries are such a treat. I suppose the country boys might lock up a goat in the schoolmarm’s privvy, and that was cruel enough, but the Plaza was decorated in the most beautiful fashion, a festival of lights, and a celebration of Fall, in all its majesty. What is to be done about all this? First, the Plaza needs an Ombudsman, a spokesman for me, that is to be sure, but charged to interpret the spirit of the season, whatever it might be. In times past, my statue alone fulfilled this function. Whether I deserved it or not, I once inspired. Second, I would advocate a festival for children encompassing the Netherworlds of the Forest Kingdoms. This would be a vast improvement over the concoctions of base literature which are currently seen everywhere. Even a Spider festival or parade would be an improvement. Finally, I would recommend that you elect a Lord of Misrule to officiate at this, or any of the various Plaza festivals. I will gladly apply, if I am able to materialize anytime soon.

    William McKinley

  11. Valerie

    Friends don’t let friends pee in public.

  12. FTFY

    Friends don’t let friends pee ON the public. FTFY.

  13. Tom Chapman, Chief of Police

    Thanks for the facebook info. We will deal with it accordingly.

  14. Mark Sailors


    Man people can be dumb.

  15. Patricia Watson

    What a bunch of idiots. Will Arcata ever grow up?

  16. FTFY

    “Following an inquiry for confirmation, Holcomb didn’t reply, but deleted his page.” FTFY

  17. He didn’t delete his page, as far as I can tell. He made it private. Barn door; horse already escaped etc.

  18. My dear Arcatans —

    I feel that, as I am the oldest citizen of Arcata, I should share my unique perspective on this fair city; this being entirely appropriate, considering the disturbances of late. I was awakened from a rather unpleasant dream, I was fending off a gang of Madagascarian lemurs, pesky little things, when I awoke and was aghast at the sight of revelers urinating from the base of my statue. I was soon quite irate, considering the fact that I have not relieved myself for one hundred years.

    Young people are frequently caught up in the spirit of revelry, and may do unconscionable things. I suppose I can forgive this, even though I am no longer possessed of all my human faculties. But I feel that I should defend myself. Last year, a group of citizens suggested that my statue be relocated, for the reason that I no longer had any relevance to today’s politics. I was very surprised at this assertion: for many years, politicians, both amateur and duly elected officials, have used my pedestal as a gathering point for public discourse. Perhaps people have forgotten that I was reknowned for my oratory. I should hope that, people should require of their public servants an ample facility with the English language, to adequately transmit the view of the Oversoul, so to speak.

    Other times, I have benevelently watched over the Plaza and its habitues. I rather like the hippies who hang around here. As a senator and as a president, I tried to represent the young men who needed work. These young men, oft criticized by the Plaza merchants, are frequently the product of small towns where the lumber industry has stranded its former workers and their families. I was a protectionist, in favor of tariffs, to protect the American Worker. I also was against the cheapening of American Labor. These young people and I have a lot in common. Furthermore, my statue has achieved an attractive patina, over the years. I am one politician who can say that he is quite literally, green.

    I also deplore the behavior of the current leadership in Washington. My presidency was heavily financed by Mark Hanna, a powerful industrialist. I was lampooned mercilessly by the press for that, but I want to tell you, I told him after I was elected, that I was not “his man”. I was then and am still the servant of the American People. I don’t think anyone else in his lifetime ever told him that, and got away with it.

    William McKinley

  19. FTFY

    Check the Facebook link Kevin, it’s gone.

  20. OK, thanks for the update. Initially was just privatized.

  21. JoeBob

    Also, direct your attention to the photograph at the bottom of the page showing a McKinley-Mounted Urinator. Doesn’t look like our boy Ken. Guess peeing on a crowd is becoming a new Halloween trend that I was previously unaware of.

  22. My fellow citizens

    I have lately been thinking about the comparisons made between me and certain “war presidents”. This is certainly accurate, but there are many circumstantial issues to which I would like to direct your attention. I was the Army guy, Teddy was the Navy guy. I guess, running on a platform like that, we would be sucked into some kind of war. In my private opinion, I felt it was all Teddy’s fault. We made him Secretary of the Navy, and it went to his head. Teddy couldn’t do anything at all, if it wasn’t in a big way. If he wanted one hundred battleships, that’s what he would get. Nobody could say no to the man. A few years ago, it was discovered that the Maine explosion was entirely accidental, or due to some incompetence on the men supervising the explosives. Smoking cuban cigars, maybe. This is truly embarrassing. Soon, Teddy wanted to send the battleships to the Pacific, to attack other Spanish colonies. That’s how we ended up in the Phillipines. After we chased the Spanish out, the inhabitants didn’t like us any better. My Viet Nam.

    Teddy and I set up a War Room in the White House. I have to admit, war gaming is extremely addictive. I woke up one night, unable to sleep. I summoned the nurse, and asked her to make sure Ida didn’t stop breathing. I put on my smoking jacket and tiptoed down to the Game Room. I was surprised to find Teddy there, hard at work. He had brought some new action figures with him. He said he knew a pewterer who was still making them. I was a little upset: he only brought naval figures. I said, “What about mine? I only have wooden pegs, and you have fully accurate military figures”. He said, “Go buy you own.” Anyway, we started at it, and drinking some nice scotch all the while. We went to the balcony once, and relieved ourselves. It was a beautiful night, the moon was resplendent over the growing city of Washington. Teddy said he knew a fellow, back in school, who was sacked for peeing out a window.

    My role in the army was never very dashing. I was not a general. I concerned myself primarily with the morale of the common soldier. I suppose that is why I was so caught up in gaming — it filled in all lot of the gaps in my military career. But I just wanted to get it (the real war) all over. I made a few decisions which weren’t really acceptable.

    I don’t think anyone in the Army today is doing anything like I did, back in the Civil War. They don’t seem to care very much about the little people, the foot soldiers, in my opinion.

    William McKinley

  23. john

    your all a bunch of idiots who gave u permission to get on someones face book and post shit they wrote with out there permission i believe that illegal ….. ur all a bunch of stuck up hippie morons

  24. Maybe we are, John, but we do know the difference between “your” and “you’re.”

  25. nameless

    kevpod, you’re a piece of shit. honestly do you have nothing else better to do then to troll random peoples facebooks and defame them on the internet? what gives yo the right to paint people as trashy hate-filled monsters based solely off one post of theirs? for all you know, this person could be some kind of innocent person like the rest of us, but instead every time you get on someones facebook and message them to get them to comment on some piece of shit one-sided article you wrote, that only fucks up the persons life you’re writing about even further. so how about you just shut the fuck up and stop trolling innocent peoples facebooks. it’s not like anyone want to talk to the “press” anyways. oh, and when people call you out, why not actually have a response rather correcting their english use?

  26. Ian Ray

    The trolls appear to have a new definition of trolling.

  27. Not only that, they all seem to be disciples of e.e. cummings.

    For what it’s worth, our new friend “nameless” has the same IP address as someone who posted as “JK” on Nov. 1, and gave an e-mail address which is the same as the Twitter address of Jordan “J.K.” Keeling.

    JK, you’ll recall, is one of the two guys arrested on suspicion of committing the massive sign theft we reported on last month. That story quoted his Facebook page, so one can understand why he would be sensitive about that particular topic.

  28. Usually, I dream…

    I dreamed
    I was the green man
    My leafy visage a thing of beauty
    I see all
    I’m in the brook, on the forest floor in the fall

    My stony pedestal becomes a solitary tree
    The expanse of fields dotted with a thousand fires
    A tree laden with strange fruit
    The stench of human sacrifice
    I hate the forces that enslave men
    To such misery

    In the cities the factories churn
    Out the war machines
    The rude men I fought have awakened
    Their crude striving for gold
    Makes all a wasteland

    Speak! I say
    Say your mind
    A robber baron is but a man
    He trembled when I spoke
    He fears you

    William McKinley

  29. Nameless

    Point proven. You completley avoided my rant and instead chose to further defame an innocent person you know nothing about.

  30. Whom are you referring to?

  31. Ian Ray

    This isn’t really relevant, but a few years back a company tried to defend itself with legions of anonymous reviews. First, the company sent out a newsletter to everyone on their email list condemning positive media depictions of homosexuality. When the negative reviews started rolling in, scores of positive reviews followed suit calling out the negative reviewers and solidifying support for the company’s political views. The review site caught on to the fact that all of the positive reviews were coming from the same computer at the company in question.

  32. The anonomorons don’t put their names on their feckless utterances because they are generally indefensible – under-researched, loaded with received non-wisdom and logical fallacies, plus kinda stoopid. Take Nameless, for example… ah, never mind.

  33. Nameless

    Point proven. You continue to completely avoid my rant. Just goes to show some people like to take attention away from themselves when confronted about something they’ve done to someone else.

  34. Yes, Brainless, that’s game, set and match for you. I hereby decree thee King Of Teh Internets.

    Take the afternoon off.

  35. S J

    The city “fathers” fucked the up the plaza in the mid 90’s with a little remodel; the removal of benches facing inward, covering up the concentric steps around McKinley with a turd of a raised bed, the removal of small established trees on the inner perimeter, and the addition of a large number of lamp posts. All of this was intended to dissuade hanger outers from hanging out. It has worked well. Besides the wild west dope hayday we are currently experiencing it is a college town with lots of bars in one location. This shit happens from time to time. Quit your whining people.

  36. Peter

    I was arrested for “resisting” as they called it. I was not drunk. I was not near the plaza. I saw the officers taze a kid and then they took him down and bloodied his face. I let the officers know that I was watching them and that they were using excessive force. I was threatened with a tazer and pepper spray. I backed up (as they requested me to do) and I kept being vocal about what I had seen. I asked the crowd if anyone had a camera. More police showed up and they pointed at me. Arrested me as I stood on the sidewalk. Called it “resisting”. All I did was watch the cops bloody a kid’s face.


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