Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Halloween in the Castro cancelled?

Despite city official’s efforts to shift attention toward another venue, Castro residents claim that witches, warlocks, and scallywags will continue to haunt the streets of the Castro district this Halloween.

Due to the increasing amount of violence over the years, locals now associate Halloween with brutality. They fear that this year crime will increase because of the lack of police enforcement.

“People are still going to come, which is worse because there will be less cops to supervise,” said Wayne Sandeven, a former resident of the Castro.

Last year nine people were shot and in 2002 four people were stabbed. A large amount of locals agree that the event needs to be banned from the area and moved to another location.

“People are dressing up like Jack the Ripper and hiding guns in their jackets,” said Todd David, 46, who has lived in the Castro for 14 years, “It is not safe and I don’t blame them for trying to move it.”

City officials have not finalized a site, but are considering holding the festivity at Pier 30-32 reported The Examiner. This location is essentially a parking lot, which could facilitate a large event.

According to the Port of San Francisco the festival will have a possible top-name performer to lure in the crowd, but will not distribute alcohol in an attempt to keep violence at a minimum.

To discourage people from venturing into the Castro, some restaurants and stores will be closing early said residents. In addition, there will be no entertainment, stages, or portable toilets for those who do come to party.

Many people who live in the Castro have stopped attending the festivity because it does not revolve around the community anymore.

According to Dale Adams, a Castro resident and Peet’s Coffee employee, Halloween pulls people in from all over the Bay Area and they bring bad things with them, like the shootings and stabbings. Adams has stopped attending because of how drastically the festival has changed.

Some resident’s say the outsiders have ruined this event for everyone who once enjoyed it.

“Halloween has become increasingly violent. It’s not the local people who go out, it’s the gay community anymore,” said Mike Roloff, who has lived in the Castro for seven years,

Although the city is trying to move the celebration, some think it would be a better idea to charge people who want to come in.

“I think that they should leave it in the Castro and charge a $25 entry fee, to keep the trash off the streets,” said David.

This is not the first time officials have tried to move the party away from this district. During 1996-2001 the city sponsored a fair at the Civic Center, and people still went to the Castro.

Some locals argue that the city should establish a dress code, while others disagree.

There shouldn’t be a regulation on costumes because that is the point of Halloween said Roloff.

San Francisco accommodates endless festivals and parades, but as the violence at these events increases, locals question whether the city will continue to hold them.

“It was the same thing at Pride and the North Beach Street Fair,” said Adams, “When events stop being fun and start being dangerous it is time to make a change.”

Roloff compares Halloween in the Castro to the first of May in West Berlin, Germany, The Day of Working, where he said drag queens have been attacked by bombs and rioting.

Some argue that the disturbances at these public arenas are not as much about sexuality as they are about the influences from culture and music.

“It’s not even the straights, urban gays start as many problems as straights do,” said Adams, “People who are influenced heavily by hip-hop music create the same problems. I am from Pleasanton and even at the Pleasanton Fair these things happen, it’s not just the Castro.”

There are very few people that disagree with the attempts of moving the Halloween party to another location to try and calm the crowds.

“It sucks they are canceling it, I went two years ago and it was crazy,” said Kellen Kreig, a barista at Peet’s Coffee on Upper Market.

People in San Francisco, and the Castro in specific, seem to agree that although Halloween in the Castro is entertaining, safety is more important.

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