The Orion

The unlikely history behind ‘Chicoween’

Hannah Yeager

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Every year freshmen come to Chico State with little to no idea of what they are getting themselves into, both in terms of academics and social situations.

Hallmark holidays have been getting out of control since Chico State got its start. The first holiday that became a problem was the Pioneer Day celebration in 1929. According to the Chico State website, the party started out innocently enough but a riot that broke out in 1987 led the university and city to cancel the short-lived celebration.The next holiday that posed an issue for Chico and Chico State students was Saint Patrick’s day. This holiday had so many people getting alcohol poisoning and just over drinking in general that the campus. In an effort to control this problem, they moved spring break to include Saint Patrick’s day in order to get students out of Chico and out of the bars.

Chico is known to have some of the biggest and craziest parties during iconic holidays, which tend to attract the most people from out of town during Halloween. Whether it be the weekend before or after Halloween, the holiday has been named by locals and students alike as “Chicoween.”

Because of how chaotic Chicoween gets, it soon came to a point where city and university officials felt the only thing they could do was have a university and citywide “cancellation of Halloween” in 2003.

According to the Intervention Chico document published to raise awareness of the history behind Chico’s party school reputation and the steps that are being taken to stop excessive drinking, 2003 was the start of DUI checkpoints and closing down streets in the downtown area in an attempt to control Halloween weekend.

The increase in police shifts, DUI checkpoints and increased party dispersal teams, ultimately made Chicoween safer for city locals and students. The Chico Police do this every year to this day.

“You hear some of the parties, but I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s not as crazy over here,” Warner Street grocery store owner Dan Kumangai said. He has lived in Chico since 1994 and has seen the influx of “out-of-towners” during the holidays but has found that on his side of Warner Street, it is usually quiet.

Kumangai has never really felt unsafe and the only thing he has seen on his side of town is smashed pumpkins thrown in the street, way safer than the corner of Fifth and Ivy Street, which he says is the focal point for parties and out-of-towners.

Bars like Riley’s Bar & Grill and Franky’s LLC, are always overflowing with people in costume. Some people plan their top five to seven costumes months ahead that they change their outfits as they make their way from party to party. Other students avoid the bars altogether and stick to campus run events.

From what used to be a celebration of ghosts haunting loved ones only to be appeased by treats, to innocent trick-or-treating and crazy college three-night-extravaganza; Halloween holds something to be anticipated and feared all at the same time for everyone. As they forget about classes and responsibility, students suite up in costume to have one fun, a crazy night that they possibly may not remember, but they will never forget.

Hannah Yeager can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news.

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The unlikely history behind ‘Chicoween’