Taking Halloween to the streets

Zombies may be wandering along The Embarcadero this Halloween.

Days after a plan to hold a large Halloween bash near AT&T Park fizzled, the Mayor’s Office is looking into an Oct. 31 streets closure near The Embarcadero.

The event would be very similar to the recent Sunday Streets events on the busy thoroughfare, during which a portion of The City’s streets were closed to cars and opened to bicyclists, roller bladers and walkers.

Mayor Gavin Newsom told The Examiner that city officials are delving into the streets-closure idea for Halloween. As first reported in The Examiner, a multi-stage extravaganza planned for the parking lot near AT&T Park failed to garner enough sponsors. The closure would potentially provide partygoers much more space, although instead of a $500,000 adults-only party, the bash will be scaled back as a family event with no alcohol allowed.

“It’s just not the season for corporate sponsorship,” Newsom said Thursday, citing the recent meltdown on Wall Street as a reason corporations aren’t jumping at the chance to sponsor a party.

The mayor and Supervisor Bevan Dufty said Thursday that the idea of a streets closure came out of their concern to provide enough activity to divert revelers from the Castro, where there will be a large police presence and no planned event.

In 2006, there was a series of violent Halloween parties in the Castro on Oct. 31 that culminated in nine shootings. In response, officials shut down the long-standing impromptu party last year by closing bars, restaurants and stores and placing a strong police presence in the area.

The mayor, however, admitted that permits and sponsors have not been acquired for the Halloween streets closure and that time is running out.

Dufty received an angry call Wednesday from Roberto Hernandez, the event organizer for the Giants parking lot event. Hernandez said he was told a year ago by Dufty that he would have the funding for the event, and he said he didn’t hear the news that sponsors were lacking for the party until Entertainment Commission President Audrey Joseph made the announcement Tuesday.

Dufty said he “opened all the doors” he could to find sponsors for the event, but once The City hired event organizer Laura Fraenza at $94,000 a year, the responsibility of fundraising fell on her. Fraenza has declined repeated requests for comment.

As for the Castro, Home for Halloween spokesman David Perry — spearheading a group that is working to discourage partiers from pouring into the neighborhood — said there will be no event, though businesses will remain open.

“Just because the bars are open in the Castro, it doesn’t give businesses a free pass to break alcohol regulations, such as serving to minors, over-serving or letting people walk out of their bars with an open container,” Perry said.

“Police will be ready to stringently enforce those laws and they’ll be ready to disperse crowds when necessary.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com
Bay Area NewsHalloweenLocal

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