City bringing Halloween back to life

Like Victor Frankenstein in his lab, city leaders are attempting to reinvent a new Halloween identity for San Francisco.

Since 2006, when a series of violent Halloween parties in the Castro culminated in nine shootings on Oct. 31, city leaders have been trying to restructure the event in a way that keeps everyone safe and doesn’t hurt the booming business that the holiday festivities generate in The City.

That’s proving especially difficult in a year when the cards are all lined up to encourage the biggest spook-day party in years. Oct. 31 will be a Friday and it will coincide with the popular Critical Mass bicycle event. It will also fall the weekend before a major election — one in which gay marriage may be banned.

Last year, in a last-minute decision that relieved some and miffed others, the party was officially killed when some city leaders convinced stores, bars, and public transit to stay shuttered that night – a move described by Supervisor Bevan Dufty as a “hard reboot” of the holiday.

Dufty, whose district includes the Castro, promised that a cancellation would not happen this year, but that promise has meant city leaders have been scrambling to prepare for the holiday.

The plan this year is a large-scale private party on Parking Lot A next to the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Ballpark and a campaign to encourage folks to party in their own neighborhoods for Halloween. Castro businesses will remain open, but Castro streets will not be closed off, as they were in years past.

“Halloween is this grand experiment, and we have a whole year to talk and think about it, but every year is different,” Dufty said.

The party will include a free event for families outside the parking lot. The private party will cost $31 and will include local artists, DJs and musicians.

City officials planning the event, however, say it may prove difficult to keep people from heading to the Castro – particularly because many may choose that weekend to celebrate a wedding, since the Nov. 4 election will be the following Tuesday.

“It’s somewhat daunting, because you can’t control everything,” Dufty said. “You can’t really say to (police), there will be so many thousands in the Mission, so many in Fisherman’s Wharf – because we just don’t know yet.”

But police seem prepared to take on the new challenge. Police spokesman Sgt. Wilfred Williams said the police have capably handled security in holidays throughout the year – like New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day – and they’ll be able to handle it again on Halloween. This year’s Halloween party at the AT&T parking lot is expected to draw about 30,000.

Katy Laddell, president of the Mission Bay Neighborhood Association, said the neighborhood is somewhat lukewarm about the proposed party at the ballpark.

“Our stand is that if it works, great. If not, we definitely won’t welcome it again,” she said. “But I’m just not sure that people will want to come to San Francisco and then go to Parking Lot A for a party. If they want to go to the Castro, they’ll go to the Castro.”

Castro resident Rob Gaddi agreed that there may not be a vast emptying of the Castro and rush to the waterfront.

“I think it’s a lovely idea. I do enjoy a good theory. I’m not convinced it’ll happen,” he said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsHalloweenLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Baseball Hall of Famer Willie Mays attends an event to honor the San Francisco Giants' 2014 World Series victory on Thursday, June 4, 2015, in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
Willie Mays turns 90: San Francisco celebrates the greatest Giant

By Al Saracevic Examiner staff writer I couldn’t believe it. Willie Mays… Continue reading

Ja’Mari Oliver, center, 11, a fifth grader at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, is surrounded by his classmates at a protest outside the Safeway at Church and Market streets on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 in support of him following an April 26 incident where he was falsely accused by an employee of stealing. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
School community rallies behind Black classmate stopped at Safeway

‘When you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us’

A warning notice sits under the windshield wiper of a recreational vehicle belonging to a homeless man named David as it sits parked on De Wolf Street near Alemany Boulevard on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. A proposed SF Municipal Transportation Agency law would make it illegal for overnight parking on the side street for vehicles taller than seven feet or longer than 22 feet. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA to resume ‘poverty tows’ amid calls to make temporary ban permanent

Fines and fees hurt low-income, homeless residents, but officials say they are a necessary tool

Income from Shared Spaces will provide financial resources to the San Francisco Municipal Transporation Agency, according to its director, Jeffrey Tumlin. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA director says Shared Spaces serves transit agency’s financial interest

$10.6 million price tag for program raises concerns among transit agency’s board members

A broad coalition of tenants and housing rights organizers rally at Stanley Mosk Courthouse to protest eviction orders issued against renters Stanley Mosk Courthouse on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, CA. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Federal judge strikes down CDC’s national moratorium on evictions

David Yaffe-Bellany, Noah Buhayar Los Angeles Times A federal judge in Washington… Continue reading

Most Read