4/20 celebrations draw colorful crowd to Hippie Hill

Thousands of people gathered in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park Friday for what was expected to be a record-breaking 4/20 celebration, the first since retail sales of recreational cannabis were legalized.

This year also marked the second time that city officials worked with a private sponsor to provide chain-link fencing, increased police presence with extra additional private security guards, traffic control officers, portable toilets, extra trash, recycle and compost bins, vendors and live music.

Elora Dennis of Sonora said she decided to come to the festival for the first time to experience the “hippie atmosphere.”

“I think it’s very well organized. It’s a nice day and everything seems responsible,” Dennis said.

“It’s amazing, I love it,” said Minny Garcia of Vacaville. Garcia said she and friends drove part of the way, took BART into the city and then got an Uber ride to the park.

“It’s nice. We’ve seen people walking around here picking up the garbage… it’s been a great day,” Garcia said.

San Francisco resident Dorothy Brand said although she’s lived in the city since the 1960s today was her first time at the 4/20 event.

“Everything is very green and clean and it’s very soothing to be here. Everyone is happy,” Brand said.

“I’m here to smoke weed and smoke it around a group of people,” said San Jose State University student Dylan Koster. “I think it’s well organized. The staff are friendly, the police are friendly,” he said.

On Wednesday, city officials unveiled a plan to clamp down on traffic backups, illegal parking and overflowing trash, which had been seen in previous years. City officials estimated that around 15,000 people would show up to today’s event.

According to the event’s sponsor, Haight Street business owner Alex Aquino, he and other local merchants raised about $200,000 to put on this year’s event.

In previous celebrations, people have been arrested for offenses such as selling marijuana, public intoxication and resisting arrest. No arrests were made last year during the first officially sponsored event.

A large and mellow crowd lazed on blankets, danced to music provided by a DJ, wandered through the food areas and browsed among a large number of vendors, both official and unofficial, at the event in the park’s “Hippie Hill” area.

Cannabis lovers have been gathering on April 20 in the park since the 1970s, according to some accounts, but in recent years the event has grown large enough to create traffic congestion and trash problems in the park.

Elsewhere in the city, many dispensaries saw long lines and hosted their own events celebrating the advent of legal recreational sales.

The Apothecarium on Market Street, for instance, saw one of its busiest days, with many out of state tourists and customers bringing parents. In addition, the store saw a higher percentage of women and seniors than in years past, according to spokesman Eliot Dobris.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials warned that reroutes were in effect Friday for the 7, 33, 37 and 43 bus lines and delays were likely on other lines that run near the park.

-Examiner staff and Bay City News

Picture 1 of 20

A big green marijuana balloon stands next to the line of customers at The Apothecarium SF disepnsary in the Castro as part of their 420 celebration on Friday, April 20, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

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