Online Extra: Political Notes: Giants parade could upend Halloween plans
by Matthew S. Bajko
While city officials are pressing ahead with their Home for Halloween campaign, the San Francisco Giants victory parade on Wednesday, October 31 could upend those plans as hundreds of thousands of people descend on the city.
Downtown city streets will be packed – likely beginning in the early morning – as fans clad in orange and black prepare to celebrate the Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. If this year's parade is anything like the Giants wild World Series celebration two years ago, expect city streets and public transit to be clogged well into the late afternoon. The parade starts at 11 a.m. at the foot of Market Street and ends at Civic Center Plaza.
The World Series celebration has turned what had been a more muted effort by city officials to keep revelers out of the city's gay Castro district that night into an unknown, although Mother Nature may give the effort a boost, as rain is predicted that evening.
With the annual holiday falling on a Wednesday night this October 31, police and city leaders were already expecting a smaller number of partiers to be out on the streets. More people venture into the Castro the Saturday night prior to Halloween when it occurs on a weeknight.
The weather may also factor into Halloween being a low-key event this year. On Monday the weather forecast predicted a 20 percent chance of rain in the city on Halloween night, with a low of 55 degrees. Daytime highs could reach 70 degrees.
Transportation schedules will also add to keeping people from venturing out later than normal. BART has not added extra trains Halloween night, so the last ones to disembark from San Francisco stations leave at midnight.
"It is status quo," said David Perry, a local public relations specialist who has overseen the city campaign. "There are no street closures and no planned party in the Castro."
The push to keep revelers away from the Castro is now in its sixth year. The website for the Home on Halloween campaign has been updated with event listings for parties people can attend around town. It can be found at http://homeforhalloween.com/ - .
A series of troubling events, including a shooting one year and stabbings another Halloween night, led city leaders in 2007 to cancel the yearly street festival in the gayborhood.
Perry said the idea has never been to prevent residents and LGBT people from going to the Castro's bars and restaurants on Halloween night.
"I hope people come to the Castro. We don't want gay people and locals not to come to the Castro. We want them to enjoy the neighborhood," he said.
Instead, the messaging has tried to convince people from other cities to look elsewhere and closer to home for a ghoulishly good time that evening.
"What we are trying to do is educate people who come in from outside of San Francisco expecting this to be a block party to know there won't be a block party," said Perry. "We encourage them to find something fun to do near their home. This has been about making Halloween fun for those of us who live in the Castro."
Over the last several years the police have had less of a presence in the gayborhood compared to when the city first imposed the Halloween shutdown. Slowly larger numbers of people have returned to the Castro, though the police try to keep them moving along the sidewalks rather than closing the streets.
"It is treated as a non event," Mission Station Caption Robert Moser told Castro merchants at their October meeting earlier in the month. "We do staff officers in the area to deal with any pop up problems that occur that night."
The station's LGBT liaison, Sergeant Chuck Limbert, added that, "We will be out in force cheering on the costumed revelers."
The real concern, though, about public safety is with this year's Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrations. The Meso-American holiday takes place November 2, Friday night in the Mission district and the skies that night are expected to be cloudy with zero percent chance of precipitation.
Following the Castro Halloween street party closure, issues of drunken partygoers have migrated to the Day of the Dead event. Two years ago police worked with organizers of the annual street processional and altar displays at Garfield Park to tamp down on drinking.
The event's website stresses that it is "family friendly" and "alcohol free." But with it falling on the start of the weekend, it is expected there will be a larger than normal turnout this year.
The parade through the streets of the Mission kicks off at 7 p.m. that night. The altar displays at the park, at 25th and Harrison streets, runs from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.
For more information, visit http://www.dayofthedeadsf.org/index.html.
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