Hot Takes with Tate: HallOween Block Party cancellation is hypocritical
Unless you’ve lived under a rock, Ohio University students and residents of Athens know that the HallOUween block party is – or rather was – a staple of Athenian culture. It has not taken place since 2019 due to the pandemic. The city of Athens adding a second year to the coronavirus-induced block party break is hypocritical, given that other mass events were and still are allowed to happen.
The problem is not the reason why to cancel the event, and I must clarify it. COVID-19 is not something to be underestimated and, while disappointing, the Delta variant should be taken seriously. Hypocrisy arises when people recognize the other highly populated events that continue to unfold in and around Athens.
OR football matches at Peden Stadium can support up to 24,000 guests, and that excludes people who choose to sit in the grass area in front of the dashboard. In addition, the vaccination status is not checked upon entry and there is no requirement for vaccinated people to wear a mask. Face covers are simply recommended for those who are not vaccinated, the rationale being that this is an external event.
In addition, since its inception in 1974, the HallOUween neighborhood party has generally hosted between 10,000 and 30,000 people, including guests from areas outside Athens. Football games are in the top 80% of the highest estimated number of people at a HallOUween block party, and there doesn’t seem to be much concern about the lack of masks and potential COVID outbreaks. 19 of people who do not follow the system honors when it comes to wearing a mask based on their immunization status. There is also the added factor of OU Athletics encouraging students to “pack Peden” on Twitter.
Another nearby event, the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, was held at Snowden Lake in Albany from September 17-19. The last time the festival was held, in 2019, it had around 10,000 attendees, according to a previous To post report. This year the guests were demand to wear masks if individuals could not stay 6 feet from each other in pits, queues and tents.
While that number of people is in the lowest estimate of HallOUween attendees and spanned over three days, it does provide a baseline for how this year’s block party might have gone. Rather than having all the events crammed into one day, they could have been scheduled throughout the weekend and in scattered locations. It also takes into consideration the amount of money local businesses will not receive now that the event has been canceled. Not only encouraging, but providing masks for those who are not vaccinated – or vaccinated and are very careful – would offer people a layer of protection against COVID-19 throughout their day.
From a precedent by To post report, even in light of the cancelation of HallOUween, OR still allows the Homecoming Parade and other related events. This is yet another case where large crowds of people will be gathered on or near Court Street, whether they are in the parade or watching it.
It should also be noted how many OU students are vaccinated. At a university public health update released on September 14, it was reported that the student vaccination rate exceeded 70%. If this is a high enough percentage for a soccer match or Homecoming, it should be high enough for HallOUween, or things need to change to make soccer matches safer for the masses.
Cohesion between city council and Ohio University would maximize the effectiveness between the two and prove that they both really care about their city. If they truly value the safety of Athens residents and students, they need to start being more consistent with how they choose to handle public safety as the pandemic continues.
Tate Raub is a sophomore strategic communications student at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the Columnists do not reflect those of The post office. Want to talk more about it? Let Tate know by tweeting her @ tatertot1310.