The Daily Pulse:

Fourth & Gill Halloween Skirmish Turns Scary

In this world, there are three types of people: those who love Halloween, those who tolerate it for the sake of their children, and those who turn off the lights and hide in the dark rather than deal with costumes and candy. Most of the time, these three groups coexist in harmony, making accommodations for the others -- only the most extreme Halloween fetishists will throw an uncostumed soul out of a party, and it's generally accepted trick-or-treating courtesy to not pound on doors when no visible lights can be seen from the street.

However, the aftermath of this year's annual Halloween party in Fourth & Gill has not been pretty -- and not because of candy wrappers littering the streets. Over the past several years, thanks partially to the neighborhood costume party and partially to the wide sidewalks that make for great trick-or-treating, Fourth & Gill has become one of the de facto hot spots to take your children in quest of candy. There are tons of children in the neighborhood, of course, but kids come in from less walkable or less safe neighborhoods from all over Knoxville to partake in the merriment. Residents prepare with up to $100 in candy for the onslaught, and many consider it one of the most fun nights of the year. 

Many, but not all. On Friday, one resident sent this e-mail to the neighborhood listserv:

I wonder if there would be a way to help out the folks who just want to get home on Halloween? 

I took half an hour to eek my car down Gill towards a turn that leads to the lot where I park in back of my house only to find it parked so illegally and so tightly that a skinny bat could not have sneaked it's way through. 

So I took another half hour to eek my way past all the little bodies so adorably arrayed as I watched the cars in front of me stop to allow what looked like an entire parade out of each one. Seriously, I think the folks who had their cars full of kids last night need to sell their secret to the Ringling Bros. Circus because I have seen Clown Cars that were not that full.

As I finally, excruciatingly, was able to eek past the round and round at the other corner and saw even more cars coming in the other direction doing the very same thing I just managed to get towards the other end of my alley to see a man attempting to squeeze his car into the illegal spot that led to my Shangri-La, my destination, my paid for parking space, my front door, my waiting cat, my Xanadu, (sigh) my home.

I confess. I did pull up so close in back of him that he could not maneuver. At this point, after spending over a half hour on what is a 2 minute drive I was either going to crowd him or lunge out of my car, crazed with exhaustion and frustration and jump up and down on his hood like the Yeti on meth.

The attempted offender finally gave me a one finger salute, (and a Happy Halloween to you too), and moved far enough up the street that I could get my car into the beginning of the alley. Mr. Happy Finger saw me moving into the alley and promptly backed up to fill up the illegal space. He was eager to make it clear to me he was deliberately going to park me in. He beeped to get my attention as his happy digit now stuck out of his car window to wag in my direction, and not to be left out the dear woman in costume who was sitting beside him screamed at me to let me know she considered me a garden tool.

As I was finally pulling in I received a text from a friend in the area that she was parked in and SOL if she needed to get out. She had gone out earlier and put notes on peoples cars but that was an exercise in futility. I did suggest that if she genuinely needed to be able to exit her own home calling the fire department for help might be her only option. She had not thought of it and thanked me.

So I finally trudged into my wee hobbit home.


You might think this mild, humorous account of one person's travails to get into a designated parking space would be met with amusement, sympathy, and perhaps suggestions for preventing similar situations during next year's festivities. Well, then you haven't spent much time on the Fourth & Gill listerv. Here's a selection of responses:

Sorry, [redacted],
But it's a neighborhood party.


[redacted], there are a couple of times when you need to park your car, possibly in the B'way Carpets parking lot. We have the Marathon come through N. Knoxville early in the morning on Marathon Day. Your car can be tied up for 3 hours. Clears out once the runners leave the entire neighborhood.

4&G has been having a Halloween party for many years, and folks wait impatiently for Halloween to come. Most of the kids are from surrounding neighborhoods and yes, they come by the van full. All are welcome and if you don't want to participate make sure your porch light is off. Park outside the 'hood, go out west to dinner and an early movie and you will come home to find it is all over until next year.      

So the original poster tried again:

I want to speak carefully about this since it is beloved by the neighborhood. ...

In the interest of all of the visitors as well as those who live here, it would seem time to consider having some folks who are set about to help the drivers as well as the ones moving across the streets.

I've been to county fairs that were smaller than what was going on around our area last night as far as people and cars are concerned. Help with parking and some folks asked to help in street crossing might help keep everyone safe as the evening swells. ...

If it had been feasible for me to leave my neighborhood for the entire evening don't you think I might have done that? 

I did participate last year.

I was out this year and simply wanted to come home. 

And just like last year, even though my lights were out by 8pm, my door was pounded on until 10pm. 

Which received more responses like this:

How about [redacted] volunteering to work the party or direct traffic? Then she wouldn't have to worry about getting her car back home in the middle of the costumed mob and their rude parents.

Then defenders of the original poster joined in:

Wow. Just WOW. ...
I realize it is very hard work to organize such an event. It went well this year, and for that, those in charge should be commended. Good job! I mean that sincerely. However, [redacted] brought up a legitimate concern. She lives here, and cars were illegally parked. She could barely drive without running into a child in the street. It's wonderful to have such a great neighborhood reputation for Halloween festivities, but what happens when, god forbid, a child gets hit in all the chaos? That will certainly give us a reputation.
What's with all the hate? Do you know this woman? Have you ever thought to meet her, to introduce yourselves? Maybe she was coming home from work. Maybe she has a job where she has no flexibility in her days off. Maybe she was at the hospital visiting a loved one in dire condition. Maybe all she wanted was to get home and rest. But do you know this? No! And by the looks of it you don't give a flying fart because she dared to make a comment that breaks away from the fantasy that everything here is perfect.
I have lived here for about three years. I was immediately attracted to this neighborhood by the beautiful historic homes and the fact that the people cared enough to keep up their residences. But when the people living in those beautiful homes are so quick to turn into a pack of wolves, suddenly this beautiful neighborhood doesn't seem so nice.
And this:

I think some of the long term neighbors aren't getting it, as well as possibly, just perhaps, might have had a few beverages, so obnoxious behavior isn't as bothersome.  It's not fun when a group of 16-18 years old, not in costume and with pillow cases as their Halloween candy receptacles repeatedly ring your door bell or bang on your door after 9 PM ... long after you've turned off your lights and obviously shut it down for the night.

It HAS become a safety hazard. I see the cars coming, going and fighting over parking spaces here at the very north end of Luttrell and this spills over on to the Glenwood bridge. They pull in and out of my driveway until around 10PM and quite frankly we are surprised none have attempted to park in our driveway.

I suppose in Florida all the above would be grounds for the "stand your ground" laws. 

Perhaps KPD ought to keep this area patrolled ... just like they do for the marathon, for this excess traffic flow.

But the critics are still piling on:

I don't think our neighborhood is a pack of wolves. Some people have been working their whole lives to make 4&G into a neighborhood that you wanted to move into because the houses were so pretty. 


... [F]rankly, I viewed [redacted]'s post as simple whining and wanting someone else to solve her problem. Her wondering if there was a way to help people that simply wanted to get home on Halloween was a ludicrous question. There is nothing we can do to control traffic in the hood on Halloween or any other time. Controlling traffic is a police issue. 
Yes, it's Monday afternoon and e-mails (of which these are only a portion) have been flying back and forth for four days now, leading one resident (absent from the discussion but active in the neighborhood) to post the following on Facebook:

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So, Knoxville, you've been warned. If you hate Halloween, you might want to consider not buying a house in Fourth & Gill. And next year, if you do trick-or-treat there, please remember that traffic -- and parking -- laws exist for a reason, even if not all the residents agree.

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