One year after more than 20 Fells Point restaurants and bars decided to shutter their doors early Halloween night, the neighborhood’s business owners have made a consensus to remain open next Wednesday.
Fells Point is poised to be a “shining destination” for Halloween celebrators again, said Misty Keens, the neighborhood’s Main Street director.
“I know that last year was a little bit of an anomaly,” Keens said. “Having seen the response from the city last year really instilled a lot of confidence. I know we're excited to welcome everyone for the night.”
For years, Fells Point has closed several streets to traffic on Halloween, allowing costumed patrons to safely travel between bars, eateries and other businesses.
In 2017, numerous restaurants and bars reportedly went dark in response to a string of violent incidents in previous years that rattled the neighborhood’s businesses.
Three people were reportedly stabbed in a street fight in 2016. In a separate incident, a 22-year-old woman was shot in the foot just north of the main hub of bars. Shots were fired in the 600 block of S. Broadway around 1 a.m. on Halloween night the year before.
The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille was among the bars that closed at 7 p.m. in 2017, manager Patrick Wood said Monday.
Wood said a number of business owners met a month ago to discuss whether to open again, he said.
“Everyone said, ‘Well, if you’re in, I’m in,’” said Wood, adding that if neighborhood activity appears to get too rowdy this year, the restaurant will simply close.
In addition to bars closing, the Baltimore Police Department deployed a large number of officers to the area to ensure the safety of residents and visitors.
Laura Kerris, of the 800 block of S. Bond St., said she hopes to see an officer presence again, though she does not begrudge business owners for any decision they make concerning Halloween hours.
“The way I look at it, they’re completely entitled to run their business as they see fit,” Kerris said Tuesday, adding that she does not plan to be out late on Halloween.
“I hope everyone is safe and there’s enough police and [portable toilets],” she said. “It’s nice to have that structure in place.”
Gavin Bromell moved to Fells Point in 2017 and, as a result, has yet to experience a Halloween during which most bars remain open.
The Aliceanna Street resident said last year’s Halloween in the neighborhood, with its heavy police presence, felt “draconian.”
“It does seem like people ought to be able to have fun,” Bromell said. “I’ll probably be out in the early part of the evening.”
In the past five years, Fells Point resident Michael Wilkins acknowledged, the neighborhood had seemed rowdier than usual.
Still, Wilkins, who works in a Fells Point restaurant, said he was not at all concerned for safety this Halloween and looks forward to establishments remaining open.
“It is a wild ruckus shindig,” he said. “I’m glad they’re opening because there’s a lot of money to be made.”