Bay Area Reporter :: Castro is waiting for spooky Halloween

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Halloween is a day that has had special meaning for San Francisco’s LGBTQ community for decades; but this year’s one will probably be more remarkable. Not only does the holiday fall over a weekend, it is expected to attract the most Halloween revelers since the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the Bay Area Reporter reported last October, community leaders have asked people to stay home for Halloween. In a joint statement, District 8 gay supervisor Rafael Mandelman and Masood Samereie, a heterosexual ally who is the president of the Castro Merchants Association, wrote that while “celebrating Halloween in the Castro is a tradition that goes back years 1940… this year, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must put the health of our communities first. “

What a difference a year makes. Nik Blanchet, Community Liaison Officer for Castro Merchants, told BAR that “we absolutely want people to visit Castro on Halloween weekend to celebrate the holiday and patronize our local small businesses in a safe way. and responsible “.

“While there are no planned street closures, celebrants will find plenty of ways to enjoy Halloween all weekend long, including restaurants, shops and nightlife,” said Blanchet. “To put it mildly, the Halloween attendees at the Castro don’t hold back when it comes to making costumes and serving these beggars, so it allows everyone to watch the amazing people.”

Mandelman wrote to BAR that he hopes it is safe for people to have fun.

“Celebrating Halloween in the Castro is a San Francisco tradition,” Mandelman said. “We know people are excited to dress up and have a great time at the bars and restaurants in Castro this weekend, and I hope everyone has fun in a way that is COVID-friendly and the neighborhood. “

Terry Asten Bennett, a direct ally who is the co-owner and general manager of Cliff’s Variety on Castro Street, told BAR that while Halloween-related sales were “not as much as [in] 2019 ”was“ double last year ”.

“Things are definitely improving” as the holidays approach, Bennett said. “Except Sunday [October 24], which was obviously his own anomaly. “

The “Atmospheric River” of October 24 brought about the fourth wettest day in San Francisco history (and the wettest since 1994). The town received 4.02 inches of rain, and as of the afternoon of October 26, there were still some 12,000 Pacific Gas and Electric customers in the Bay Area without power. Luckily for revelers this weekend, including All Hallow’s Eve, should be dry. October 31 will be partly cloudy with a high of 59 degrees and a low of 51 degrees, according to the weather forecast.

Bennett said she hoped Halloween would help the Castro recover from the lack of activity for much of the past two years; although she doesn’t want things to get too out of hand.

“Obviously, as a business owner, I want to see all of our businesses in the Castro thrive and be successful,” Bennett said. “I don’t want to see Halloween being what it was at this point. Obviously, given COVID, I don’t want to see too many people gathering in one place, but I want to see us all have a successful weekend. “

Blanchet directed potential visitors who want to dance to attend Comfort and Joy’s Shine in the streets fundraising event, taking place October 30 from 4 to 9:30 p.m. on Noe Street between Market and Beaver streets.

Tickets are free, although Comfort and Joy asks for a $ 10 donation at the entrance. When contacted by BAR, Comfort and Joy’s Joshua Smith said the event will open with DJs Eddie House and Shay, followed by performances and DJ Prince Wolf, ahead of a costume contest before 8:30 p.m.

“Visitors and residents alike will find many options to enjoy the Castro on Halloween,” said Blanchet. “Restaurants and bars are already heavily decorated and promote entertainment and other special surprises. Store windows are awash with spooky storefronts. And, when it comes to finding a costume (because your creativity you may be missing out on this lately), no area is better to scare off a great last minute outfit. … We encourage everyone to go out and support the Castro’s small businesses this Halloween! “

SFPD providing additional staff
Mission station police captain Rachel Moran, a direct ally, told BAR that the department will have additional staff for the Castro on the nights of October 30 and 31, but would not be more specific. The San Francisco Police Department is bracing for a potentially busy weekend, Moran said, with the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park (which usually takes place in the summer) straddling Halloween weekend. .

Halloween – with its outrageous and creative costumes, the symbolism of living behind a mask or costume, and the fear of some conservative Christians – has long been a big day for LGBTQ people. The Halloween festivities in the Castro, which stemmed from celebrations among the queer people of Tenderloin, North Beach and Polk Gulch in the mid-20th century, became one of the major events of the year for the neighborhood around the turn of this century. century.

But with tens of thousands of people descending on the Castro – including gays – it became difficult for the city to ensure public safety during the event. In 2002, four people were stabbed on Halloween night in the Castro; But the death knell for the old Halloween festivities came in 2006, when nine people were injured by guns in a mass shooting while a 10th victim was trampled on in the melee that marred the party. annual street.

A heavy police presence prevented the event from happening again, and in 2011 stakeholders agreed that the Castro should not be the focal point of a region-wide celebration. Government policy became to direct people, as much as they listened, to various events in other neighborhoods, as well as to strictly enforce laws on the consumption and sale of alcohol.

As a result, the California Alcoholic Beverage Control Department announced on October 25 that it would be on the lookout for violators this weekend.

ABC officers will verify compliance with alcoholic beverage laws to reduce the service of alcohol to clearly intoxicated customers and young minors. License holders should ensure their employees carefully check identity documents for prevent the access of young people to alcohol “, indicates a press release. ABC also advises anyone of legal drinking age to help reduce drunk driving by designating a driver who does not drink before going to a place where alcohol is sold. ‘alcohol.”

Eric Hirata, director of ABC, said the office “encourages everyone to discuss how to make Halloween celebrations as safe as possible.”

To help revelers avoid drinking and driving, regional transportation service BART runs its trains later than usual on Halloween day. BART will extend its hours of service from 9 p.m. to midnight with limited night-time service.

Other activities
Above Castro Hill in Noe Valley, Gay State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to Host a “Festive and Safe Halloween Celebration” at Noe Valley Courts (at 24th and Douglass Streets) from noon to 3:30 a.m. 30 October. The celebration will feature drag queens Juanita MORE !, D’Arcy Drollinger and Mercedez Munro judging the pumpkin carving.

Pre-scooped pumpkins will be provided and rewards will be given.

“I’m delighted we’re back to an in-person pumpkin carving competition,” Wiener said. “This is a great opportunity to come together, celebrate the successes of our community, decorate some beautiful pumpkins and have a side look judging by three amazing drag queens.”

On Sunday, two Noe Valley women-owned pet stores on Church Street – Noe Valley Pet Company and Maxwell’s Pet Bar – are co-hosting the fifth annual “Howl-O-Ween Pet Parade and Costume Contest”. The event will begin at 2 p.m. on October 31 at 1451 Church Street, and only pet owners and their costumed canine companions who walk there will be judged.

Sister Roma, of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, will host Nob Hill’s HalloQueen drag brunch October 31 at noon at the Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street. Tickets start at $ 125. FOLLOWING! will be DJ. (This is not an official SPI event.)

“Halloween is San Francisco’s favorite holiday and I’m delighted to bring some of the city’s most talented and beloved drag artists to the iconic Fairmont,” Roma told BAR. “The hotel goes all out with fabulous decorations, a five star menu and bottomless mimosas and bloods – it doesn’t get better than this. “

At the Glen Park Recreation Center on October 30 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. there will be a haunted house, crafts, music and food vendors. Nicknamed “Nightmare on Elk Street”, the event is free. Proof of vaccination is required to enter the haunted house.

In the South Bay, the District of Qmunity is having a Halloween event in downtown San Jose on October 31 at 7 p.m. on Post Street between Market and First streets. People can win up to $ 500 in the Qmunity Night Circus Costume Contest and Aiden Zhane from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will perform.

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