By Richie Rathsack
Freakfest opened this year with small crowds of pedestrians streaming through gates and into the fenced-in area, with temperatures in the upper-40s.
At the Library Mall entrance to Freakfest, police were everywhere, as knots of between two and six partygoers went through entrance gates.
At 7:30 p.m. when the festivities were scheduled to begin, police appeared to outnumber partygoers by about three to one.
Soon after 7:30 p.m. a voice crackled through an extensive loudspeaker system, urging people to have a safe Halloween. The voice, coming from out of nowhere, added a strange Big Brother feel to the event as passers by commented on the creepy voice from the sky.
State Street was lit up by large lights, like those used to light construction scenes for nighttime work to be done.
At 8:00 p.m., most of State Street was empty except for roving police patrols. Stages were still being set up for the musical acts and the entrances at the side streets were deserted.
At the start of Freakfest, many people were not in costumes – except for what they appeared to have worn to the Wisconsin football game earlier in the day. Some sat inside restaurants and shops, and along the sidewalks, searching for the most creative costumes.
Some of the early enteries included: a man with a marionette-like bee, a large fish, the main character from the Metroid videogame, a ghoul on stilts, a group dressed up as the Wizard of Oz characters, and Michael Vick with a dog in a noose.
By 9 p.m., there were longer lines at entrance gates and officers on horseback were near the Library Mall entrance.
On the other side of the perimeter, partygoers ran afoul of the no-open-intoxicants rule as they walked toward the entrances.
Many of them were quickly discarding their bottles and cans onto the sidewalk before getting near the heavily patrolled areas as open intoxicants are not allowed on State Street.
As of 10:30 p.m., there had been eight arrests, said Police Spokesman Joel DeSpain
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