Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

San Francisco City Hall to pay for annual Castro Pride party, end it at 8 p.m.

Pink Saturday drew a crowd in 2011, with the illuminated pink triangle on Twin Peaks in the background. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Pink Saturday drew a crowd in 2011, with the illuminated pink triangle on Twin Peaks in the background. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

San Francisco City Hall is expected to pay for this year’s Pink Saturday party but will end the event in the Castro at 8 p.m. and is likely to ban music stages.

Last month the Bay Area Reporter broke the news that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had decided to end their oversight of the street party they had managed for nearly two decades.

The charitable drag nun group made the decision due to escalating violence in recent years, including an attack on one of its members and his husband last year and the shooting death of attendee Stephen Powell, 19, in 2010.

Adam Taylor, an aide to gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, informed Castro merchants at their monthly meeting this morning (Thursday, March 5), that city leaders had determined the party must continue, despite the Sisters’ withdrawal, in order to deal with the tens of thousands of people expected to stream into the Castro the evening of Saturday, June 27 on the eve of the city’s Pride parade and celebration Sunday, June 28.

Not only does the annual Dyke March, held early Saturday evening, lead up to 10,000 people into the Castro, but the Pride-sponsored celebration that day in the Civic Center also wraps up around 5 p.m. and many of the attendees then head for the Castro. City officials are also bracing for a larger-than-normal turnout for Pride weekend this year due to the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule sometime in June that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

“We are going to have an event that Saturday but will be ending it earlier,” said Taylor.

Speaking on behalf of Wiener, who was out of town and unable to attend the meeting, Taylor added, “Not having an event is not an option.”

Wiener’s office is in consultation with Mayor Ed Lee’s administration, including the police department and Municipal Transportation Agency officials, on planning for this year’s Pink Saturday party.

Steve Kawa, a gay man who is Lee’s chief of staff, and Kate Howard, the mayor’s budget director, are working with Wiener to determine were the funding will come from to cover the expenses associated with hosting the street party. Last year’s event cost $80,000 for the Sisters to produce, though the price tag for the 2015 event will likely be less if the city axes having musical stages and/or a food truck area.

“We are looking into what would be needed to pay for the event,” said Taylor.

The city would allocate resources to staff the event and bring in port-o-potties, added Taylor. City leaders have also reached out to a community organization to partner with them, though the outside group has yet to confirm it will participate.

The reason the city intends to end Pink Saturday at 8 p.m. this year, said Taylor, is “because we see a lot of people coming in after that hour and engaging in bad behavior.”

Rather than having music stages, as has been a hallmark of past Pink Saturdays, the city is contemplating having one stage where out elected officials and community leaders can give speeches.

“There is nothing like calming down a crowd than having someone like (gay) state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) talk about what pride means for 20 minutes,” said Taylor. “We will invite a number of people to talk about what it means to have pride.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, March 5, 2015 @ 1:17 pm PST
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