As Madison recovers from its latest shock, the murder of University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Brittany Zimmermann, students, locals and out-of-towners were tentatively festive at this year's Mifflin Street Block Party on Saturday.
Joviality and cooperation, among drunkenness, colored the fortieth annual gathering that originally intended to protest the Vietnam War. Fewer than 10,000 attended this year's party, according to Madison Police Department Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain -- down from 2007.
Throughout the day, revelers shrugged their shoulders as they were led away by Madison Police Department officers for having open containers on the street. Many acknowledged Zimmermann by buying bottled water, pizza and donuts at the stand for the scholarship fund set up in her name, though some students berated Madison police for what they said was a lack of vigilance regarding campus safety.
Wearing a t-shirt with a picture of herself and Zimmermann screenprinted on it, Jenna Krasselt, sister of Zimmermann's fiancé Jordan Gonnering, said Saturday that the crowds, though inebriated, were "very respectful."
"Everybody seemed like they really cared," Krasselt said, after reporting that the fund raised just under $1300 Saturday for Dollars for Brittany, the scholarship fund set up by her parents in her name. "There were even some people who were like, 'I only have 35 cents to my name,' and they would give us their 35 cents. It was amazing."
Zimmermann's parents hope to raise $25,000 for the fund, and currently have around $15,000.
"People also donated directly to Brittany's parents today, so we got about $925 there," Krasselt continued.
Raking in approximately 400 arrests as of 9 p.m. Saturday evening, Madison police patrolled the 400 and 500 blocks of West Mifflin heavily, with a maximum of120 officers in the area at any given time, according to DeSpain. One house party was broken up, due to a noise violation, DeSpain said.
MPD officers escorted the arrestees into police vans and a Madison Metro Bus on Bassett Street that would transport them to the booking area at the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
"It's been pretty smooth," said MPD Capt. Richard Bach, who was herding offenders along Bassett Street around 4 p.m. "We haven't see a lot of belligerent people, and most of the arrests have been alcohol-related, obviously, usually open containers."
"No major incidents were reported during the event," read the final MPD release Saturday evening. However, though there were no bloody fights this year, the event did not lack its typical alcohol-induced entertainment.
UW-Madison Dean of Students Lori Berquam and Associate Dean of Students Argyle Wade said they saw a student in a leopard-print costume roller-skating up and down Mifflin Street before the party was in full swing.
"We also saw a guy punching through his own window to get back into his house. Something about how, 'They locked me out!'" Berquam said. "So we went over and tried to help him with that."
As the crowds dispersed around 7:30 p.m., due in part to mounted police seen in recent years at the Halloween gatherings on State Street, DeSpain deemed the party a success.
"But we still want people to be safe, you know -- if you're highly intoxicated, make a pact right now with your friends to stay together tonight," he said. "That's what we're really here for -- we don't want to arrest people, we just want to make sure people are safe."