San Francisco's Pink Saturday joins dry movement 

Pink Saturday is going dry this weekend, after a deadly shooting took place in the center of the party last year.

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It’s the latest in a string of San Francisco events that have banned consumption of alcohol outside neighboring restaurants or bars.

Sister Sharin’ Dipity, a board member with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which organizes Pink Saturday, said partygoers hoping to bring alcohol will not be tolerated. “Don’t come to the gates with a cooler,” Sister Sharin’ said.

In previous years, attendees have been able to bring alcohol in plastic cups or purchase it from bars, restaurants or liquor stores and walk around, but that won’t be the case Saturday.

Pink Saturday is the unofficial street party held in the Castro to celebrate the San Francisco Pride Parade. The event is typically bordered by Market, Castro, Noe and 19th streets. The Sisters began organizing it in 1998.

Alan Beach-Nelson, president of the Eureka Valley/Castro Neighborhood Association, said all attendees will be funneled through entrance gates to let police, security and the Sisters monitor the crowd.

Beach-Nelson said the focus of the party has changed in recent years. “It’s become less gay and more looky-loos,” he said. “And it’s looky-loos looking for trouble.”

The hope this year is that such security measures will help transform Pink Saturday back into a party “for and by the LGBT community.”

Trouble reared its head at last year’s party when Stephen Powell, 19, was shot and killed by an unidentified man around 11:30 p.m. at the intersection of Castro and Market streets. A 29-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman also were shot in the incident; both survived.

Beach-Nelson and other community organizers hope to prevent Pink Saturday from going the way of the Halloween celebration, which was canceled in 2007 after nine people were shot the previous year.

Last year’s shooting is one reason for the change, Sister Sharin’ said. Another is a request from San Francisco police.

Sgt. Chuck Limbert, the Mission station’s liaison to the LGBT community, said all available on-duty cops — even probation officers — will lend a hand in making certain this year’s event is safe.

“We’re not allowing any alcoholic beverages whatsoever inside the area,” Limbert said. “If you wish to have a drink, we have more than enough bars in the area.”

Pink Saturday is not the only event at which police have sought a crackdown on alcohol. Earlier this month, the Union Street Fair banned alcohol in designated beer gardens for the first time in 35 years, saying it was done at the request of police.

And last month’s 100th-anniversary running of the Zazzle Bay to Breakers set up sobering tents and banned floats to deter alcohol there.

The Haight Street Fair banned alcohol in 2007, and some neighborhood groups attempted to ban alcohol from the North Beach Festival in 2006, but were unsuccessful.

Sister Sharin’ said the flow of liquor has been an obvious concern.

“We want the event to come back to the community and be community-centric; helping manage the alcohol is one way,” she said. “Make it safer for everyone.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

Examiner Staff Writer Mike Aldax contributed to this report.

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