Downtown Orlando Halloween open alcohol 'experiment' perhaps 'didn't work out so well,' according to city leaders


  • Photo courtesy Reddit user Grover-Johnson
Just as Dr. Frankenstein learned to his misfortune not to push science to its unholy limits, so city leaders expressed dismay that their own "experiment" in allowing open alcohol on closed Downtown streets Halloween night resulted in massive, oft-maskless throngs packed tight into Downtown Orlando.

Photos from Halloween night Downtown Orlando began making the rounds of Reddit and social media on Sunday. And it looked pretty bad. In the photos, segments of Orange Avenue were sold-out-concert-level packed with revelers. Local news outlets posted up their fair share of crowd shots too, with no positive spin in sight.

During the following Monday afternoon's post-Halloween Coronavirus Orange County COVID-19 Update on Nov. 2, local officials owned up to the bad decisions, and seemed more than a little concerned about the possibility of a superspreader event on their watch.

Acknowledging that nearly 80 percent of the Halloween party people out that night were unmasked, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer chalked the one-night open alcohol rule change as "an experiment that didn't work out so well" and one that would not be "revisited."

“A lot of people were out there without masks, without social distancing, so I am concerned whether there was some spread of COVID Saturday night downtown,” said Dyer.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings echoed Dyer: "It always concerns me when we have large crowds who aren’t doing the social distancing, aren’t wearing the facial coverings. They do so at their own peril.”

Orange County health officer Dr. Raul Pino – who recently discouraged local parents from holding birthday parties for their kids after COVID outbreaks that were traced back to neighborhood parties – raised a note of alarm, saying the great majority of cases in the county skew toward young people, aged 15-35 (75 percent of those high school- and college-age). He said that the crowds of, yes, young adults out on Halloween gave him pause.

"The situation in the data is very similar to where we were before Memorial Day and that concerns me,” said Pino. “Who knows if the numbers go higher what we will have to do? Because there are not that many tools left in the tool box, besides what no one wants. So it’s concerning.”

On the other hand, Dr. Pino found a small shred of hope in that some people were at least outdoors.

So now it's a waiting game to see if there is a significant spike in the next week or so.

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.