Halloween: In childhood this is a time of wonder and light-hearted fun. Finding the coolest costume, carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, spooky T.V. specials. Unfortunately for many, with age, Halloween starts to lose the magic and whimsy, and more often than not, young adults will fill the space left with half-hearted costumes and a lot of drinking. From this phenomena “Halloweekend,” if born. “Halloweekend” is the weekend which precedes Halloween on the calendar and is also when the most Halloween themed parties take place, especially in college towns.
Most N.E.C. students remember hearing about, or in many cases even remember first hand, the incident which took place last year on Saturday, October 22nd, when police showed up at a house party and dozens of students were either arrested or placed in protective custody until morning. The whole ordeal left students in attendance rattled and resulted in more tension between the student population at N.E.C. and the Henniker Police Department (more tension than usual, anyway).
Consequently, there was a good deal of buzz around campus in the weeks leading up to Halloween and Halloweekend about what H.P.D. had in store. It was alleged that they planned to call in reinforcements from three neighboring departments in preparation for any big Halloween parties being held in town. After a request for comment or perhaps a short interview about these claims and the “Halloweekend,” situation as a whole, Chief Matthew French only rebuked the three department claim and said only that they did “increase [their] staffing due to the large party incident last year,” calling this a “proactive approach,” and gave no further comment.
And proactive they were. It was reported by many students that they saw more police patrolling town than usual, as early as Thursday the 24th, causing many to feel more uneasy than ever about the weekend to come.
Of course, the rumors or not, the posed risk did not prevent many students from going out. According to an anonymous student source, there was still a good deal of students who decided to hit the town, so to speak, but also “more precautions that were taken.” She also claimed that there were “more police officers on campus patrolling than [she had] ever seen since [she had] been here.” Finally, she explained that while many students did decide to go out, a good deal of them were “on edge,” and a sizable amount of students did decide to stay in.
As far as the situation concerning the student/police dichotomy that is so prevalent in Henniker, she described the whole thing as “a little ridiculous…If kids are staying in their houses and not outwardly starting trouble, the police shouldn’t be looking for it. After all, it is college. What do they expect?” Which seems to be a popular perspective among the majority of the N.E.C. student body.
Nevertheless, H.P.D. and N.E.C. students alike are all grateful that there was no such repeat of what happened last year and the town and school all made it through Halloweekend relatively unscathed.