Halloween in Athens
Ohio U -- not Ohio State -- is the place to be
Posted: Wednesday November 1, 2006 11:19AM; Updated: Wednesday November 1, 2006 12:52PM
It is safe to say that the most tedious part of attending Ohio University is constantly having to remind potential employers and unknowing relatives that we are Bobcats here in Athens, Ohio, and are not to be confused with some nuts from a certain state school an hour north in Columbus.
Ohio State is OSU, Ohio University is OU -- see, the "S" is silent.
But thankfully this is the time of year when there is no confusion between Bobcats and Buckeyes. Halloween is in the air, and even Playboy knows that the best party in the state of Ohio is not at the state school, it is here at the original Ohio University.
So just how does Halloween go down in Athens?
It has been estimated since the mid- to late-1970s that anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000 people per year show up for the festivities on Oct. 31 in Athens. Add those to the undergraduates -- about 17,000 students -- and cram that into a city with a general population of about 22,000, and you are looking at a geographic area doubling in population for a weekend.
Athens, which has earned the nickname "The most haunted city in Ohio," is the perfect setting for a Halloween party. The city is home to an abandoned mental hospital right off campus; dorm rooms thought to be haunted by ghosts; and Mount Nebo, the highest peak in Athens County, which is said to be an old Indian burial ground.
These stories are just scratching the surface. If you want more, just Google "haunted" and "Athens, Ohio" and you will be amazed by some of the scariness swirling around the Ohio University campus, and on it.
Now picture everyone in this haunted city -- guests, students and residents alike -- all heading to one location on Halloween. Court Street, which is only four blocks long but seems to be home to more bars than a prison, is the main drag in Athens, and on Halloween people can enjoy live music and one another's company, and get into the Halloween spirit(s).
With so many people in such close quarters, the only way to separate oneself from the herd is by costume, and every year there are always a few mind-blowing concepts out there.
A short list of this year's best:
Army men painted head to toe, clothes and all, in the trademarked green paint. A Jamaican bobsled team, complete with sled hoisted overhead, moving up and down the street. Ten or 15 guys dressed as Tom Emansky's -- that's right, five-time AAU Baseball National Champion Tom Imansky -- instructional video team, complete with banner and trash can for those throws from the outfield. A bunch of guys dressed as Legends of the Hidden Temple contestants, from Purple Parrots to Silver Snakes. A group of women dressed up as Pay Per View's Super Bowl halftime spectacular Lingerie Bowl (use your imagination).
And a quick list of the traditional favorites:
Mario and Luigi, SpongeBob SquarePants, pirates, Ghostbusters, witches, angels, God, Jesus, firemen, French maids, police officers, cats, devils, schoolgirls, nurses, Superman, Batman, hippies, bums, skeletons -- OK, you get it. (It should be mentioned that most of the traditional costumes are worn by attractive women who like to take a nontraditional approach. It is doubtful you will ever see a fireman wearing a leather skirt with a low-cut shirt instead of the big yellow suit. The same goes for the angels -- some of these ladies might make a person religious.)
So what Athens has on its hands is the college party high school seniors dream about. An extensive guest list; people dressed up, down and hardly at all; and one that will rage late into the night, if not for days.
And the best part: Everyone is invited! Year after year people make the trip, whether it's to relive Halloween memories past, to create new ones or to experience it for the first time.
So mark your 2007 calendars with a big "OU" from Oct. 26-28 next year, when Athens will once again throw its Halloween bash, and make the extra hour drive past Columbus down to Ohio University.
Besides, all of your Buckeye friends will be here anyway.