Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

'Pink Party' new name
for pre-Pride festival


The Market Street entrance was crowded at the 2012 Pink Saturday party. Photo: Rick Gerharter
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Organizers of the Castro street party formerly known as Pink Saturday have chosen Pink Party as the new name, while financing and other details for the June 27 festival continue to be worked out.

The developments come as a report from San Francisco officials shows the annual pre-LGBT Pride parade event has brought in millions of dollars for the city. Despite that boost, the city has repeatedly declined to provide direct funding for the event.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted on its blog last Thursday, organizer Ruth McFarlane shared the party's new name that morning.

McFarlane, the San Francisco LGBT Community Center's programs director, said of the Pink Party name, "In a way, it comes up from the community. It's the name everybody uses if they don't say, 'Pink Saturday.'"

The center was brought in to plan the event after the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, which had run the party for more than 20 years, announced in February that they wouldn't produce this year's festival. The Sisters cited concerns about violence as a primary reason for their backing out.

The center and other organizers had to choose a new name for the event, which draws thousands of people to the Castro, after the Sisters voted not to let the new planners call it Pink Saturday. The Sisters, who own rights to that name, plan to revamp their event for 2016 at a different site.

Regardless of the name, recently released city estimates indicate this year's party will help the local economy.

Tuesday, April 21, gay Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose District 8 includes the Castro, released a study from the economic analysis unit of the controller's office that shows in 2014, Pink Saturday attendees generated about $6 million in spending.

The figure is among data included in "The Economic Impact of San Francisco's Outdoor Events" report from the economic analysis office, which did a survey of the event.

Last year, organizers expected to have 50,000 visitors, the study says.

According to the report, 48 percent of the people who attended the event were from out of town. Among those, "34.7 percent stated that Pink Saturday was the main reason for visiting San Francisco."

Analysts focused on the effect last year's Pink Saturday had in terms of visitors to the city and estimated their portion of the total was $2.7 million. That includes "over $600,000 at retail trade establishments, over $500,000 at restaurants, and over $215,000 at hotels."

In a statement announcing the report's release, Wiener, said, "Whether it's a large celebration like Pride or a neighborhood festival, people come to our city and frequent our local businesses. This report puts into hard numbers what we already know – that our outdoor events are not only a huge part of our culture, but are essential to the health of our economy."

Wiener has been heavily involved in Pink Saturday planning for years, and he's one of the officials from whom Sister Selma Soul, who coordinated Pink Saturday from 2012 to 2014, had sought help.

The city had waived some fees and provided other assistance to the Sisters, but for years did not provide direct funding. Wiener has said the city doesn't typically fund such events.

After the Sisters announced their withdrawal, Wiener pulled in the community center to help organize the festival, and the city will likely pay tens of thousands of dollars for it.

Wiener's said the city's funding of this year's party comes after the Sisters' announcement left little time for funding to be pulled together.

The 2014 festival cost the Sisters $80,000, though this year's celebration is expected to cost more to produce.

McFarlane said last week that the budget hasn't been finalized, and she couldn't provide an estimate.

"We will release all the details as soon as we have them and they're certain," she said.

It's not clear yet how much money city officials will provide for the Pink Party.

"The city is providing substantial support for the party," McFarlane said. "The center is obviously leveraging the resources we have here in our organization, as well."

She couldn't say whether the center would be spending money on the event.

"Until we finalize the budget, it would be better for that conversation to wait," McFarlane said. However, she said, "We do have staff resources dedicated" to the festival.

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