San Francisco 2006 Halloween party may be canceled
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
July 28, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The city-sponsored Halloween party
in San Francisco's Castro, which in recent years has drawn a crowd
of around half a million, may be canceled this year -- and for
the foreseeable future -- because many people in the surrounding
community believe it has grown too big and too dangerous for the
neighborhood, according to Rachelle McManus, an aide to Supervisor
At a community meeting Wednesday evening at the Harvey Milk Civil
Rights Academy neighbors voiced concerns about the size of the
Entertainment Commission Executive Director Robert Davis said
residents are working with Dufty and the Entertainment Commission
to shut down the event, which started out as a small community
party around 40 years ago and has mushroomed into a celebration
of Halloween that brings in a large crowd from around the Bay
Halloween brings public drunkenness, violence and often graffiti
to the area once night falls, but even before the official party
starts, local merchants are frustrated by street closures and
a lack of parking for shoppers, Davis said.
For many people living in the Castro, "There is no upside,
there's only a downside" to Halloween, Davis said.
McManus said that many local residents don't even go to the street
Dufty's concern about Halloween solidified after a spate of violence
during the June San Francisco Pride celebrations and he now feels
there's no longer a way to manage the risk of an event as large
as the Halloween party, she said.
The proposed cancellation of the Castro celebration comes just
three years after the city took over the six-block event in an
effort to curb public drunkenness and violence, following five
stabbings during Halloween revelry in 2002.
Halloween in the Castro "has gotten better" since alcohol
was banned outdoors, and the city's police force has also helped
ensure festivities are safe, McManus said.
The city's involvement has also smoothed transportation in and
out of the area by coordinating with Bay Area Rapid Transit to
provide trains for partygoers, Davis said.
But the size of the party, which has been promoted outside San
Francisco, has also made it unmanageable, McManus said.
The alcohol ban has also prompted the growth of alternative,
alcohol-fueled Halloween parties in the Castro neighborhood's
side streets and neighbors have complained about a lot more noise,
fistfights, and public urination, Davis said.
Whether the party is moved or completely canceled, police and
emergency services will still work to keep the area safe on Halloween
this year, he added, acknowledging that the city would have to
work hard to get the word out that the official city-sponsored
Halloween party has been canceled.
In the meantime, the Entertainment Commission will work with
the city and residents to nail down a solution and will look at
all options, including moving the party to another part of the
city, although this could just move problems like drunkenness
and violence to another neighborhood, he said.
"We'll speak on behalf of the city but when a decision is
rendered it will be a consensus decision," Davis said.
"We have to make a decision very, very soon. October's right
around the corner," he added.
The Entertainment Commission will reconvene in August to discuss
whether to move or shut down the party.
McManus said that she was "pretty confident that there's
going to be no entertainment in the Castro this year."
"Basically what the idea is, is to put out publicly that
it's canceled, (to) have no entertainment but maintain the level
of security," she said. "The idea is to plan for the
worst and to create an environment where it's not that fun."
The message is going to be "Please don't come," she
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