Ashland gears up for Halloween

Ashland residents are preparing for ghosts, goblins and witches to come out of the woodwork on Saturday for the city's annual costume parade, followed by a typically raucous celebration in the plaza.

As many as 6,000 people are expected to attend the children's Halloween parade downtown, according to Katharine Flanagan, marketing director for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the parade.

"People want to celebrate and I think this gives people an outlet," she said. "Watching the parade reminds you of how much joy and creativity we can create in our community."

The parade begins at 3:15 p.m. at the Ashland Public Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd., and ends about an hour later at the plaza. Officials will close East Main Street to traffic between Third and Water streets and will divert cars to Hersey Street between 2:30 and 5 p.m.

Later that night, about 30 police officers — from Ashland, Talent, Phoenix and Medford's departments — will be on patrol in Ashland, as they try to curtail drunken driving, underage drinking and rowdy partying.

Ashland's plaza celebration typically attracts people from neighboring cities, especially when the holiday falls on a weekend, said Lt. Corey Falls with the Ashland Police Department.

Police expect about 2,000 people to pack the plaza on Saturday night, he said.

"There'll probably be a couple thousand people if the weather's decent," he said. "There's going to be a lot of police officers out that evening."

Inspectors from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission will also be monitoring bars for underage drinking, Falls said.

"They've already sent all businesses a letter just to remind people that you can't serve people unless you can identify them," he said. "Somebody can't get into a bar with a mask on."

Deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office will assist Ashland officers with setting up a drunken-driving "saturation force" in the city between 9 p.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday.

"We want people to be safe and monitor how much alcohol they consume if they're of age," Falls said. "Please don't drink and drive."

Southern Oregon University officials are holding events on Friday and Saturday to try to encourage students to stay on campus to celebrate Halloween.

A variety of other Halloween celebrations will occur in Ashland in the coming days, including a pet parade, Monster Dash and ghost tour. See the accompanying list of events for more information.

The holiday gives Ashland residents a chance to come together and express themselves, Flanagan said.

"It's about keeping the spirit of the Ashland community alive," she said. "Halloween is a fun holiday here for all ages."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.

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