Fear of failure halves SoMa party

A planned big bash near AT&T Park for Halloween that was designed to divert tens of thousands of costumed revelers away from the Castro this year is being scaled back after failing to pull in enough event sponsors.

Since 2006, when a series of violent Halloween parties in the Castro led to nine shootings, city leaders have worked to relocate and restructure the event in response to concerns by local residents and businesses that the annual neighborhood street party has become an unwieldy, rowdy event mostly attended by drunken outsiders and those looking to cause trouble. 

Last Halloween, a heavy police presence in the Castro for the most part shut down the event, but city officials began planning an alternative event for this year since Oct. 31 is on a Friday night and expected to draw more crowds than 2007’s Wednesday night holiday.

Entertainment Commissioner Audrey Joseph called the original Mission Bay party plan — to have two tents with a free event early in the evening and a $31 per ticket nighttime celebration — “very ambitious” and said it would be downsized because of a lack of funding.

“We didn’t have a long enough time to put on the event that was envisioned,” Joseph said Tuesday night at an Entertainment Commission meeting. “We’re doing the event. It will just be smaller.”

This year’s event will still include a free party for all ages that includes a costume contest and a performance by Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Joseph said. But the ticketed event, which was set to include a late-night party with DJs, live music, drag queens and dancing, will most likely not take place.

The approximately $500,000 event had already found sponsors in AT&T, Wells Fargo and Safeway, according to an earlier report. Entertainment Commission officials declined to comment on whether the sponsors had pulled out. 

Additionally, in a public-private partnership that involves Mayor Gavin Newsom’s office, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and public relations firm David Perry and Associates, city officials are calling on promoters across San Francisco to throw their own parties.

The City’s Halloween event organizer this year, Roberto Hernandez, said he feels abandoned by The City.

“I want to make this clear: It’s not my event, it’s The City’s event,” he said.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Smaller festivities

Details of the new scaled-down Halloween bash scheduled for Parking Lot A of AT&T Park:

What will still happen:
Family party: 4 to 9 p.m.

  • Pie-eating contest
  • Costume contests
  • Local youth performers
  • Performance by Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child

What will not happen:
Adult party: 8 p.m. to midnight

  • Drag-queen performances
  • Salsa and Samba tent
  • International Dance Pavilion tent with DJs, reggae music

Tickets: Available online soon at www.sfhalloweenfestival.com

Source: Entertainment Commission

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