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Devil's Night Is Detroit's Deadly Halloween Tradition

Updated October 18, 2019 3.9k views11 items

Other parts of the country deal with some minor issues leading up to Halloween, but Detroit's Devil's Night has featured countless fires and general chaos for decades. In fact, it was common during the '80s and '90s for the three days leading up to Halloween to be accompanied by nearly constant blazes.

The city finally took action in the '90s with the invention of a new holiday, Angels' Night. Also set on October 30, this new spin on the troublesome holiday intended to reduce the amount of property destruction and other crimes that run rampant on the eve of Halloween. 

Devil's Night in Detroit has waned during the past two decades, but this deadly Halloween tradition still sparks up every year. At its peak, there was an average of 500 to 800 fires annually, but as of 2016, this number had fallen to 59. This represents a very positive change for Detroit, but it also showcases that some people still just want to watch the world burn. 

  • The Angels Couldn't Keep The Devils At Bay In 2010

    From 1995 to 2010, Angels' Night volunteers helped drastically reduce the number of arson cases on October 30. However, 2010 interrupted this trend when the number of fires escalated to 169.

    This was still a far cry from the heyday of Devil's Night, but it also represented a 42% increase from 2009. By 2011, the city found itself back on the right track.

    It is believed that the spike was due to a decline in Angels' Night volunteers from an average of 50,000 to only 27,000. 

  • 'The Crow' Brought Devil's Night Into Pop Culture

    The Crow movie is an adaptation of the popular comic book series by James O'Barr. Raised in Metro Detroit, O'Barr used his creative platform to shed some light on the atrocities of Devil's Night.

    In the film, criminal Top Dollar tells a story that suggests he personally set the very first Devil's Night fire. This may not necessarily match up with the real-life timeline of Devil's Night, but it did highlight the city's deadly Halloween tradition. 

  • Some See Devil's Night As An Excuse To Party

    Despite the fact that people have died on Devil's Night due to the negligent actions of arsonists, some local bars and other businesses actually use the holiday to attract customers. It's common to see flyers throughout Metro Detroit and nearby Ontario, Canada, advertising Devil's Night parties.

    It's possible that the intention is to help keep people off of the streets. However, the number of fires has drastically fallen as teenage curfews have increased, which seems to indicate the bar crowd is older than many of the fire starters.