Halloween in the Castro? S.F. says: Don’t go there

To prevent throngs from showing up for Halloween festivities in the Castro this year, The City will try a simple approach: Tell people the violence-marred event has been canceled and to go elsewhere.

But those warnings may not be enough to keep visitors away from the neighborhood that has annually hosted a major street party. To prepare for that, The City plans to have at the site more than the 500 police officers who were on hand last year, as well as contingency plans to divert traffic, barricades at the ready and promises of strict enforcement of rules prohibiting open containers of alcohol.

City officials also plan on hiring a media consultant to get the word out, particularly to those who come in from outside The City.

“We’ve got to get to those outside of San Francisco. We think that is going to be our major challenge,” City Administrator Ed Lee said.

Fliers will behanded out at BART stations alerting people that the Castro Halloween party is canceled, and a number of roadway message signs putting the word out will be deployed.

Castro businesses with alcohol permits are also being asked to close down for the night that night — only 11 of the more than 100 businesses with such permits have agreed to do so thus far — and residents are being told to keep their Halloween parties indoors.

Halloween in the Castro is a decades-old party that draws more than 100,000 revelers, but it has recently been marred by violence. Last year, a gunman at the event opened fire, shooting nine people.

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau is partnering with The City to promote alternative Halloween activities. City officials abandoned plans to provide an alternative to the Castro party at a parking lot behind AT&T Park after negotiations with the promoter fell apart earlier this month.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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