Each year, Boulder residents and students at the University of Colorado Boulder descend upon the Pearl Street Mall for the Halloween Mall Crawl, a tradition that began in the early 1980s. As crowds grew larger and rowdier each year, the city ultimately shut down the celebrations in the early 1990s.
“Back in the early ’90s, when we would have thousands and thousands of people at the mall, it resulted in significant amounts of property damage and a large number of assaults and fights,” said Barry Hartkopp, a commander for the Boulder Police Department and Boulder SWAT team. “Based upon that, the decision was made by the city that we needed to curtail those events for the safety of the community and the preservation of property.”
Ultimately, the event was revived in 2021 when around 1,000 people, many of whom are believed to have been CU Boulder students, gathered on Pearl Street, leading to reports of both injuries and property damages.
In 2022, students and residents once again gathered on Pearl Street for the Mall Crawl, resulting in reports of attendees climbing trees and light posts and causing property damage, according to BPD.
On Oct. 27, 2023, the yearly Mall Crawl did not occur as it was scheduled to.
The Barstool Buffs’ Instagram page shared the news that the event would most likely not continue via an Instagram story on Friday. Barstool Buffs did not respond to a request from the CU Independent for comment.
“So based on what I saw with a post by Barstool Buffs, they said that it looked like the event was not going to happen this year because we put some fencing up,” Hartkopp said. “But the fencing that we put up allowed full access to each of the… blocks in the mall. So that was a decision made by others, nobody related to the city at all.”
The decision for BPD to put fencing up throughout the area was not intended to discourage the event from occurring, according to BPD.
“The police did put three-foot fencing on the 1100 block and the 1200 block — only around lamp posts and trees — to help prevent people from climbing up on lamp posts and trees,” said Jennifer Ciplet, the senior communications manager for public safety and critical response for the city of Boulder. “There was no intention of shutting down the Mall Crawl or not having the Mall Crawl.”
However, in October 2022, BPD shared content discouraging students from attending last year’s Mall Crawl event.
“Though some social media accounts have been promoting certain events, there have been no permitted approvals, and any illegal gatherings like this will only hurt city businesses and our community,” BPD wrote in a post shared on Instagram.
Though the cause for this year’s Mall Crawl’s smaller turnout is unknown, BPD claims that a variety of outside factors may have contributed.
“It was also super cold, so we thought maybe that influenced it. I know there were some people on social media, some students that were saying they were upset that it was Friday night and [not] Saturday night. So I don’t honestly know why the mall crawl got shut down,” Ciplet said. “It’s a fun holiday, and we want people to be able to celebrate it in a way that’s super fun and safe.”
Contact CU Independent news editor Jessi Sachs at Jessica.Sachs@colorado.edu.
Contact CU Independent assistance visuals editor Clementine Miller at Clementine.Miller@colorado.edu.