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Mayor Prang: 'City Doesn't Make Any Money on Halloween'

Weho Mayor Jeffrey Prang contends there is a misconception that the city generates large amounts of revenue from the Halloween Carnaval.

West Hollywood Mayor Jeffrey Prang said Wednesday that contradictory to public belief, the city does not make any money from the ever-popular Halloween Carnaval.

"There are some assumptions and myths that are untrue," Prang said. "We don’t make any money on Halloween. We spend almost $900,000."

Prang said the city gives nearly $500,000 to the agency that plans and organizes the event, and more than $300,000 goes to the sheriff's department.

However, the money the city receives from West Hollywood businesses in return, which is based off the city sales tax, comes nowhere near the amount of money the city spends on the Carnaval, according to Prang. 

"I'm kind of a critic because of the money we spend on it. I'm a supporter of the event but not the size of it," Prang said. "The city has deemed it important. But every year, when people say it’s a moneymaker for the city, that’s just not true."

Prang listed a number of reasons as to why businesses around West Hollywood do not enjoy as much success on Halloween night as one might anticipate.

"There are a bunch of businesses in the area—bars, night clubs and restaurants—that have a good night," Prang said. "But up on Sunset Boulevard, businesses don’t do as well because no one wants to come unless they're going to Halloween because of traffic and parking. Customers can't get to these business and in turn, they're not busy. Parking can be miles away and people park in front of businesses, then walk to the Carnaval."

Prang said he has been attending the event since 1987 and has seen it transform over the years. 

"Basically, it used to be in the main business district, but it got enormous over the years," Prang said. "I always ask the question, would this event not be a wildly successful event if it had 100,000 people instead of 400,000? Could we provide a more quality event? We provide Halloween entertainment for all of Southern California."

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A different Paul November 01, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Seems too big to me. Too many people for the streets to handle and the fun quotient has disappeared. Getting caught in a river of people is not fun and kind of scary when you can not get out of it. But is it even possible to shrink it at this point? Even if you said it wasn't happening it would still draw thousands and thousands of people.
Todd Bianco November 01, 2012 at 12:24 AM
I can understand the Sheriffs expense. Public safety is important ; however why does the city need to subsidize the "agency that plans and organizes the event"? Does this agency even have a name and does it profit or pay a nice fee to a promoter? I'd like it to go back to just people showing up in costume. We don't need a stage or KIIS or others using the event to promote or profit. Let the businesses on SMB open to the streets and rake in cash for as many taxable drinks and food or tchotchkes . Let the hotels fill up with guests paying the TOT. Maybe it will all make up for the lost tax revenue on Sunset. But the City shouldn't have to lose $1 million on this event.
MarkD November 01, 2012 at 12:29 AM
I'd be happy to see Halloween go away. Far away. Or scaled WAY back. The, I don't know, arrogance of West Hollywood shutting down a huge portion of a primary artery (that doesn't have any viable alternatives) in the middle of a work day is ludicrous. I end up wasting a vacation day every year because it's just impossible to get home from west LA at the end of the work day. If there is no social or monetary reason to justify this nightmare, why do we do it?
Wesley McDowell November 01, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Sure has come a long way from the days of the drag queens parade and others out to just have fun. With no event in Hollywood will the people who used to go there come to Weho? If so, we could be in for a really big crowd. I, too, don't understand t he $500,000 to some promoter. Do the vendors, radio stations, etc. not pay anything? If so, who's getting that money? What is the promoter doing for the $500,000? Seems like this time for some serious reassessment, much like Gay Pride. It's been the way it is for several years and frankly, it's not as much fun as it used to be, as Mayor Prang himself admits.
scott ferguson November 01, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I agree with MarkD - that this more often takes place on a weekday, not a weekend (unlike Pride, the Marathon, The Sunset Rock Fest, AIDS Walk) apart from it not really enhancing the city's image or reflect its history is a strong reason to end this. SM was closed before noon. Traffic was backed up on Doheny almost to Sunset - that's terrible. I'd like to see Mayor Prang push to make an effort to cut this way back next year.
joninla November 01, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I still have a 'misconception' about the financing around the Halloween Festival. I walked my dog today and noticed all the $20 parking signs (many of which will turn over several times over the evening), a main concert stage covered with major corporate branding (beer companies I think) Permit Parking restriction are apparently not going to be enforced, however I still wonder if the popular 'failure to curb car wheel' tickets will not be give out. Along with countless illegal parking in red zones, or spots specifically signed for the event. The amount of Alcohol Consumed comes with the process of purchasing it in and consuming in our licensed bars, which would seem to be a lot of city revenue. The system which seems like 'sub-contracting' out the event reminds me of the phony way the city pretends they simply contract out parking enforcement as if it is not in essence a way to disguise and rename all the parking ticket revenue coming into the city annually. But I don't think, with all due respect to your office/position/title, that anyone apart form Heilman and our city manager know, understand and manipulate the massive city budget (relative to the population). Mr. Prang said he lives on/off Sweetzer near city hall, yet want the insane Robo-Garage near his home? Common sense seems lacking in the our city governing process.
Chloe Ross November 01, 2012 at 02:55 AM
I am still puzzled. A nearly million dollar event that produces little revenue? Is it a charity event? You donate the money for a good cause? FYI - vendors pay licenses to vend and promotors who receive half a million bucks from the city are smarter than the average hustler. I like Jeff - he is sweet guy- but I don't believe his story and I am not calling him a liar - I just think it is spun to justify an outrageous price tag for what is basically a drunken party on the city's tab. Someone has been tricked and someone has been treated. Sweet Jeff - this is a silly road to take. You have confused more people than you have edified. I gree with these comments comments - and I especially agree with Scott.
RJ November 01, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I agree the City should set a budget to start scaling way back. I say 50% less on the budget. It doesn't need all the stages. And too many other business stores in the carnival area that have to shut down all day lose revenue.
joninla November 01, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Good point about the HOTEL TAX that will be generated. I doubt there is an empty room in town (or any not reserved will be taken buy over intoxicated, but sensible, people who can't drive themselves home a look for a room. Like Pride, I suspect the rates are much higher for Halloween, and the Hotel Tax is a percentage (a high %) of the room's nightly cost. Likewise I imaging all the clubs on Sunset will be having special events, again at higher prices for Halloween. But I think it is like the Parking Scam where there are stories about each ticket written costs the city anywhere from $25-$40 just to process (of course they fail to mention the city get that 'processing' money in a different titled income source)
Chloe Ross November 01, 2012 at 03:20 AM
In our current economy it is really uplifting to live in a city that has $900K in discretionary income to toss at a street fair writ large. And equally reassuring that over the estimated 400K revelers can afford such a night on the town. Whilst millions of people are suffering the devastation of Sandy - and that is no one's fault (no matter what the snake handlers say to the contrary) - what a relief to live in a small city that can afford to spend almost a million dollars on a party that cannot even pay for itself. We live in some fascinating times.
Paul November 01, 2012 at 06:15 AM
I was in and around West Hollywood during the day and it has grown tremendously since 1997. That was the last time I attended what was then a smaller event. Still big but no stages. Maybe one but nothing like now. So many cops everywhere! I can remember what it started as a community driven event in the early 80's. No streets where blocked off just good looking men with buffed bodies wearing next to nothing and very few straight people. VERY creative costumes also! Once the city took control they ruined it or changed it dramatically. The way they advertise it, I always thought there must be money being made otherwise it wouldn't make sense to spend so much money on it each year. Then again this is a city that paints it's cross walks pretty colors only to have tire skid marks days after. They waste money but evidently have it otherwise they wouldn't be able to spend the $$$ they do on nonsense.
RTL November 01, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Have a VIP section or dance section like they do at PRIDE and SELL TICKETS. Or simply rope/fence off sections of the street and sell tickets; that will make the event smaller and lucrative. Kids free or have an adult only section (which is probably a good idea as some of these costumes aren't for kids to see.)
Paul November 01, 2012 at 07:04 AM
I agree with Scott, RTL and others. The Halloween carnival could remain an exciting, fun time for all interested without as much being spent. It always was long before West Hollywood was even a city. Scale back!!!!
Paul November 01, 2012 at 07:47 AM
Also, I'm not sure but all of the people (including myself) who have voiced there opinions on this topic and above the age of 40. Most 20 and 30 somethings would be the first to say the Halloween party on Santa Monica Blvd is the greatest thing! I know because that was me at that age. I once spent $500.00 for a custom made Halloween costume. The next year after that I spent $800.00. Halloween was a huge holiday for me back the 80's and 90's..... I think when you get older it isn't the same.
sinaida kniter November 01, 2012 at 08:28 AM
You're wrong Paul,also younger generation is staying away from this disaster.My sons 20 and 27 y.old active partygoers, are avoiding Weho on Halloween for at least 5 past years.Opinion of local residents and business owners is completely disregarded. May be we should vote on this subject ?
Randy Fuhrman November 01, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I have always said that there should be bleachers set up and the people that do not come in costume need to pay to be at this event and create revenue from this. It will also cut down on the traffic of people. But the sponsers should be paying the city to be there. I do not go now as it does not feel safe when there are 500,000 people going to this and the crowd is like a sea of people and sometimes you can not move through it. Set it up so people have to pay that are not is costume and cut back it will bring it back the old Halloween which was really fun and you got to enteract with most of the people that went. It is now just a huge sea of people and it is not the fun it used to be! Reply Leave a comment Send me email updates for this article
Stephanie November 01, 2012 at 07:40 PM
"US Census 2010 - West Hollywood, CA - Persons below poverty level, percent, 2006-2010 13.2%" ...but The Corporation of West Hollywood can spend almost one million dollars on a party. What have we become? I hope you were misquoted, Jeff when the author of this states "Prang said the city gives nearly $500,000 to the agency that plans and organizes the event". I hope "gives" should have been "pays" as I am assuming the "agency" is not a nonprofit entity. If, we as a city (corporation) are going to "give" money away, then I want my portion to be given to people who need it like the APLA Food Bank or some of the 13.2% of people who are struggling to make ends meet, pay their rent and put food in their families mouths.
Ali November 01, 2012 at 09:53 PM
No viable alternatives to SM Blvd from WLA? How about Wilshire? Beverly? Sunset? There are many alternatives.
Ali November 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM
They were saying on the news NOT to bring small children or dogs because some costumes would be inappropriate for small children to see, but the public always ignores these warnings.
Ali November 01, 2012 at 10:07 PM
If you want to cut down on the amount of people, charge EVERYBODY that comes to the party, in costume or not. I, personally, haven't gone for years. I hate crowds like that. It's not fun. I always thought the City organized it. Now I learn they don't and it has become a big, sponsored event that has grown out of control. Why should the City give the people who organize it any money at all? The organizers should give the City money to have it on our turf, the way it disrupts things, especially when Halloween falls on a weekday. Personally, I don't believe Prang's comment that the City is out almost a $1mil for this thing. I still think the City makes money on it.
Paul November 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Does Prang lie? His seat is up for grabs in March and he'll say anything to hang onto his place at the table.
Paul November 01, 2012 at 10:30 PM
For many years the city of Santa Monica had a popular fireworks display for the 4th of July. It was awesome!!! Sadly, the blacks, Mexican's, whites etc..... didn't always get along and fights often broke out with knifing and deaths. That along with the huge traffic tie ups the city stopped the popular event altogether.
Wesley McDowell November 01, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Did any of you who are making comments actually go out last night? I did, after commenting earlier. Yes, it was a big crowd, but that's expected. Except for one idiot who pointed a gun at a deputy, there were no incidents and rarely are. This is one of the main reasons so many people come to Weho on Halloween--it's a safe environment. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see that there was a them and that all the music stages and food vendors had signage that was consistent. I didn't see any radio stations, only DJs promoting dancing and fun, not their stations. The food vendors were generic, identified only by what they were selling not who they were. It really was a fun evening. It has always been a big crowd. By in the early 90s I recall it taking me over 30 minutes just to cross at Santa Monica/San Vicente. That doesn't happen any more, even with the larger crowds. Everything ended at midnight and by morning there was little evidence. So what if it happens in the middle of the week, do you want to assign Halloween to a particular day, maybe the last Saturday of October? Believe it or not, Halloween doesn't just happen in Weho, even if it was once the only city in the US to have offices closed on Halloween and open on Christmas! Having said all this, I do wonder about the money. Surely there is some way for the city to make money. Maybe the promoters should pay the city, not the other way around.
Ali November 02, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Did you people notice the article about Rihanna being named Queen of the Carnaval? I quote: "Superstar recording artist Rihanna paid a visit to the Greystone Manor Supperclub in West Hollywood on Wednesday night, where she was crowned Halloween Carnaval Queen. Mayor Jeff Prang and members of Weho city council presented Rihanna with a crown and a key to the city, as well as flowers and a commemorative certificate." Talk about a waste of money...a crown and a key to the city and they weren't even at the event..they were at a supperclub!
Paul November 02, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Rihanna isn't exactly a role model for young women. I mean she is talented in a manufactured way musically, extremely beautiful but she has issues. She likes being beat up by men apparently? She is back with her abuser. Not a good role model for young women to look up to. A better choice would be Kelly Clarkson. She is gay also. Just saying......
Paul November 02, 2012 at 03:46 AM
I'm sure these vendors have to pay some sort of fee to participate in the Halloween carnival. If not they definitely should. Why does the city have to be involved at all? It managed just fine back in the day.
Ali November 02, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Sexual orientation is immaterial Paul. This City has people of all orientations.
Rudolf Martin November 02, 2012 at 07:21 AM
we do not expect our halloween parade to pay for itself so we give it a million per year. in contrast the residential parking permit program must pay for itself. citations within the program are not credited as income. therefore we will keep raising the fee that residents pay for the program. as stephanie (and many others) pointed out we do have some strange priorities. halloween is great for kids. can we at least tie this pointless parade to a charity so we have a party with a purpose?
me November 02, 2012 at 07:45 AM
The West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval is produced by the City of West Hollywood and the Authentic Agency, a West Hollywood branded entertainment agency.....there was some tiff a while back about how these contracts were awarded and then it was all swept under the rug....see what you can find out about the "authentic agency" and who owns it and what political campaigns they donate to.....as they say: FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!!
Chloe Ross November 02, 2012 at 07:06 PM
"We provide Halloween entertainment for all of Southern California." No we don't. We provide "adult" entertainment for all of Southern California. Children (and dogs?) are not advised to partake. So this is not an accurate comment - however well meaning it may have been. The best part is we pay for all of it too. The demand register will be on the agenda for the Nov 5 City Council. Maybe someone should demand to see how this chunk of change gets parsed. As it stands now - it a paid event sponsored by the City of West Hollywood that is essentially rated R. As an aside - some of the costumes worn by four of CC members were very fascinating - I wonder who/what they were supposed to be???? Anyone have a clue???

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