Eric Wang, Contributing Photographer

Maia Nehme ’27 and her first-year suitemates sat huddled around their phones on Sept. 22, hoping to secure tickets to this year’s Yale-only Halloween party at Toad’s Place. 

The event, affectionately known as “Hallowoads” to students and alumni, takes place each year on the Wednesday before Halloween.

While many of Nehme’s suitemates were able to secure tickets, she was left empty-handed. The event had sold out within an hour.

“I tried to buy one right away, and the site said they were already sold out,” Nehme told the News. “I was surprised they sold out so quickly.”

History of the event

Although Wednesday-night dance parties at Toad’s Place have been a staple of the Yale experience for decades, the Hallowoads event has changed in recent years.

Historically, the event was not ticketed. But after open-entry policies at two recent Toad’s Halloween events resulted in disorder among students, policies have changed.

In 2018, rumors circulated that a violent gang initiation was set to occur at a Saturday night Toad’s Place event during Halloween weekend. While the rumors were later dispelled by New Haven police officers, the perennial chaos of Toad’s Halloweekend would continue. 

During Hallowoads festivities in 2021, a crowd of students broke down the metal barriers set up to corral students in line to enter the nightclub. At the time, Cory Vanhouten — a Toad’s employee — estimated that there were more than 2,000 people inside or waiting outside the venue before New Haven and Yale police officers shut down the event.

Those on site reported that one student was carried away in a stretcher, and when the event ended abruptly at approximately 11:30 p.m., a voice on the loudspeaker cited “anarchy out in the streets” as the reason for the preemptive closure. 

When Nehme expressed frustration to an older student about her inability to secure a ticket to this year’s Halloween festivities at Toad’s, the advice she received was not to go at all. 

“[I] was told, ‘Don’t go to Hallowoads,’” Nehme said, “‘my freshman year it was like Astroworld.’”

This year’s sale 

Because of the 2018 and 2021 Halloween mishaps, Toad’s Place began ticketing Hallowoads in 2022. The ticket sales began at $5 for early sale and eventually reached prices of $10.

Last year’s Hallowoads commenced as normal with a lower capacity, given the new ticketing policy. 

“We have to sell tickets for the event now given that too many students have shown up in the past,” Toad’s Place Yale Ambassador Lily Siegel ’23 told the News. “Unfortunately, we just cannot accommodate them all.”

When tickets went on sale Friday, students flocked to Etix — the website Toad’s uses for its ticketed events — to secure a spot. Upperclassmen reported getting the email from Toad’s Place with ticket links at 8 a.m. on Friday, while first-years and sophomores received the same email at 10:30 p.m. Toad’s Place did not comment on the difference in email times. 

According to Siegel, 955 tickets were sold for the event. While the Etix website displayed an “unavailable” message at least three times throughout the day on Friday, the ticket link said that the “performance was sold out” by 1 a.m. on Saturday morning. 

“Getting tickets for Hallowoads is unnecessarily competitive,” Wolf Boone ’26 told the News. 

Boone and Nehme both expressed frustration with the short notice they were given to secure tickets and the disparate timing of emails. Nehme told the News that she only found out about the event because older students told her about it. 

Boone also told the News that he believes tickets sold out so quickly because many students choose to purchase multiple tickets at once and then resell them for higher prices. Boone explained that he bought a second-hand ticket for the 2022 Hallowoads. 

“Last year, there were a bunch of kids buying tickets in bulk and reselling them at absurd, astronomical prices,” Boone said. “I can admire their entrepreneurship, but buying a ticket from a reseller last Halloween put a dent in my wallet and my dignity,” he said. 

While Boone expressed hope that more tickets might be released, Siegel said — on behalf of Toad’s — that additional tickets will not be made available. 

Toad’s Place is located at 300 York St. 

Kaitlyn Pohly is a junior in Silliman College. She serves as the News' Sports Editor. Previously, she reported on student life and student policy and affairs for the University Desk. Originally from New York City, Kaitlyn is a History major. Outside of the classroom and the newsroom, Kaitlyn dances with YaleDancers.