aviewfromthebrink.typepad.com > Halloween on Castro Street: San Francisco

Once upon a time, in a far out land called the Castro district of San Francisco, local residents threw a party on Castro Street every Halloween night that was pretty fabulous by most accounts. *** Soon the fame of this annual festivity spread throughout The City and eventually even the "bridge and tunnel people," that is, citizens from all over the Bay Area, came to enjoy and maybe even participate in the spectacle. *** Unfortunately young ruffians and hooligans also started showing up and causing trouble. *** In 2006 a shootout between rival gangs of thugs resulted in the wounding of nine people but no fatalities. The next year the party was shut down almost completely, with perhaps a little more than a hundred people showing up, some of whom held a mock funeral for the spirit that had once held notorious sway but had, apparently, departed this world. *** In 2008 the party was resurrected, more or less brought back from the dead. Thousands of people crowded the sidewalks and nobody got shot or stabbed, a good sign for the future of this unique celebration. *** This year was even bigger but not like in the past, before things got dangerous. *** San Francisco police flooded the Castro area, according to Jaxon Van Derbeken of the San Francisco Chronicle, saying they would crack down early on revelers, arrest public drunks and scofflaws, and send a message to troublemakers to stay home. *** This may have been helped by the fact that the Bay Bridge was crippled, which is the main connection between San Francisco and the East Bay, though BART remained operational all night. *** Police made at least four arrests by midevening Saturday, authorities said. *** Two people were arrested for being drunk in public, one for battery, and one for illegal weapon possession. *** Here is a collection of photographs from three years of Halloween parties on Castro St., including 2005 and 2008. *** All photographs copyright 2009, 2008 and 2005 by Thomas K. Pendergast

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