discusses Halloween safety procedures
San Francisco Halloween activists Alix Rosenthal, Ted Strawser,
Rick Galbreath and Supervisor Chris Daly held a press conference
today to discuss measures to help ensure a safe Halloween in the
By Caitlin Cassady
September 18, 2007
A group of community activists and concerned neighbors decked
out in orange and black held a news conference Tuesday on the
steps of City Hall to discuss how to ensure a safe Halloween in
the Castro District.
A community group, Citizens for Halloween, is calling on San
Francisco government members to attend a community meeting this
Saturday to discuss plans for organizing the inevitable crowds
that will gather in the Castro this Oct. 31.
At the meeting Citizens for Halloween hopes to establish a Halloween
Community Advisory Board, work with the community to provide a
safe celebration, cultivate the image of Halloween as a fun safe
event for tourists and locals alike, and recognize the cultural
impact of San Francisco's celebration.
Organizer Alix Rosenthal said that she also hopes to discuss
potential problems such as portable toilets, street closures and
Two Castro businesses, Ritual Coffee Roasters and another, which
prefers to remain anonymous, have dedicated money to provide a
portable toilet in front of any residence or business that requests
it, Rosenthal said. According to Citizens for Halloween, organizers
will work with the Department of Public Works to try and get permit
fees waived for those toilets.
Ted Strawser, founder of SF Party and member of Citizens for
Halloween, asked for police and government members to establish
concrete plans for crowd management in the Castro.
"We are here to mitigate the disaster that will occur next
month if there are no plans to control crowds,'' Strawser said.
In 2006, when Halloween was a city-planned event, there were
9 people shot, and one woman suffered a head injury after she
was trampled in the crowd. The year before, a partygoer was running
around with a live chainsaw, according to Nathan Ballard, director
of communications for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
"Last year the violence in the Castro was out of hand,''
Ballard said. As a result of the violence in 2006, "Halloween
is canceled,'' he added.
In October the Mayor's office will be rolling out a public information
campaign directed toward the entire Bay Area, Ballard said. The
campaign will explain that there will be no regional party in
the Castro and will encourage people to stay home and attend events
in their own neighborhood.
On top of the informational campaign, the city will be united
in its commitment to preserve public safety, Ballard said. The
city will have even more police officers on hand this year than
last year, and has cooperation between city agencies to keep residents
"Only a lunatic would think it's a good idea to invite the
whole Bay Area to invade the Castro on a weeknight,'' Ballard
Part of the informational campaign will also involved asking
businesses in the Castro to close their doors on Halloween, Ballard
said. The Mayor's office hopes that creating a dearth of open
bars and restaurants will decrease the number of revelers.
"Businesses staying open on Halloween does not contribute
to the violence that occurs on the streets,'' Rosenthal said.
"We need to concentrate on making Halloween safe, not closing
Gary Virginia, who works with the Merchants of Upper Market and
Castro group, said that he doesn't condone closing businesses
"Castro Street merchants depend on Halloween as one of the
biggest income days a year,'' he said.
Virginia wants to encourage Mayor Newsom and city supervisors
to follow the lead of New York City, which has a large Halloween
parade every year in Greenwich Village. According to the organizers,
New York City garners an estimated $60 million each year from
Halloween tourists and parade-goers.
"Other cities embrace the opportunity that we (San Francisco)
seem to be paralyzed by,'' said Hank Wilson, an Lesbian Gay Bisexual
Transgender community activist. Wilson called on the community
to respond and help organize the historic event.
Overall, Citizens for Halloween hopes to establish Halloween
as a safe event that will continue the Castro's tradition of a
unique Halloween celebration, Virginia said.
The community meeting will take place Saturday at 1 p.m. in the
Eureka Valley Recreation Center, 100 Collingwood St.
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