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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Liqour Treat

Liq-our-Treat: Statistically, Halloween is a drunk-driving debacle in the category of New Year's, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Bet you dind't know that. How about this: Three times as many alcohol-related car crash fatalities happen on Halloween as on St. Patrick's Day. That's not good. And it sure as heck is surprisng, given the common perception of the two holidays.

Some people seem to think this is a new and growing trend:
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the council joined to spotlight the growing linkage between Halloween and alcohol on Thursday."There's so much more awareness around other holidays," noted Donna Kopek, executive director of New York State MADD. "Halloween is becoming more of an adult holiday, and with that comes alcohol consumption."
I certainly agree that Halloween is increasingly being marketed these days as a booze-fest for adults rather than a children's tradition. A quick look through today's Metroland reveals the following ads: costume party at the Alcove Pub, Halloween Party at the Bayou Cafe, Halloween Party at Valentine's, "Monster Bash" at Sneaky Pete's, Halloween Party at the Elbo Room, Halloween Party at Cafe Hollywood, Costume contest at the Waterworks Pub, 4th annual Halloween Bash at Big G's, an a "Halloween weekend at Jyllian's." That's more than I remember seeing 5 or 10 years ago. Throw on the beer commericals - like that Coors Light "sexy ghots" ad - and it sure seems like there is an aggressive campaign to promote drinking on Halloween.

On the other hand, this isn't a trend that has come out of nowhere. It just can't be the case that Halloween 30 years ago was no different than any other regular day in terms of DWI. College kids don't need much of an excuse for a party, and I assure you that they didn't just discover Halloween in the last decade. And I definitely remember there being some drunks at the school-sponsored Halloween Party when I was at Shaker in the early 90's. I also recall going to a Halloween party at Bogie's circa 1997 that was held in conjunction with their legendary "$5 all you can drink Thursday." So it's not like this is a trend that has been whipped up in the last few years. But it certainly does seem to have accelerated in the recent past, that's pretty clear to me.

One thing that magnifies the danger on Halloween is the ghosts and goblins that no one really thinks of Halloween as a big DWI day. Thus the public-safety messages, blanket police patrols, and generally wariness of people isn't there to deter would-be drunk drivers like it is on New Year's or St. Patrick's Day. Luckily, that seems to be changing:
The evolution of Halloween parties as drinking events also is one reason that the Albany County Sheriff's Department has scheduled an overnight Stop-DWI blanket patrol tonight and early Saturday, said Sheriff James Campbell. Albany County's special patrol is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and continue until 4 a.m. Saturday. State Police, the Sheriff's Department and 11 municipal police agencies will participate.
Maybe soon you'll be able to add Halloween to the list of nights you can score one of those "free cabs" back from the downtown bars.

P.S. On a semi-related topic, I have always wondered if the "college girls/women dressing up in the sluttiet costumes they can justify on Halloween" trend was a rather ancient tradition or just a modern treat that I happened to catch the wave of during my teen/college/young adult years. Whatever the case, the new emphasis on Halloween drinking must only be accelerating it, right?
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