Dufty wants to cancel Halloween

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By Tim Redmond

Yeah, it's true: Sup. Bevan Dufty wants to cancel the official Halloween celebration in the Castro.

Of course, nobody -- not even a district supervisor with the full backing of the Police Department and the mayor -- can actually cancel Halloween in the Castro. I doesn't work that way. But Dufty hopes that if the music, the road closures, and the city sponsorship go away, and the word is put out that Castro Halloween is over, not so many out-of-towners and troublemakers will show up.

"It's not a draconian, fascist thing," Dufty aide Rachlle McManus explained to me. "But frankly, we want to make it uncomfortable for people who want to cause trouble."

That means the roads will be open (in theory, anyway -- in practice, this will never work) and there will be nothing (other than a large police presence) to give public sanction to a neighborhood experience that's been part of the Castro for decades.

"One year, somebody brought a live chainsaw. Last year someone came as a medieval knight with a real sword. Bevan worries that this is the year someone's going to get killed," McManus said.

The problem, of course, is that people are still going to show up -- and with nothing in particular to do, they may behave even worse.

"I think it's Grinch-like," Alix Rosenthal, who is running against Dufty this fall, told me. "I'm surprised he wants to cancel it. People are going to come anyway, so we should do everything we can to make it as safe as possible."

There's a community meeting tonight (Wed) at 6 pm at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy (19th and Collingwood). I suspect a few people will show up in costume, and have a few things to say to Dufty.

"He only gave us 48 hours notice," said Rosenthal. "This is a community-defining event, and I worry that he doesn't think community input is that important."

I understand about the danger of violence (there have been a few stabbings in past years) and the live chainsaw (which is one of those things that's really cool, but yeah, a recipe for disaster). But Rosenthal's right -- this is a community-defining event, and it seems such a shame for city officials to just announce it's been cancelled.