City talks of moving Halloween bash 

Attempts are being made to phase out the annual Castro Halloween street party, which in recent years has been marred by violence and provoked complaints from neighborhood residents.

San Francisco may host a "big name" Halloween entertainment event at Piers 30-32 in an attempt to lure some of the tens of thousands of revelers from the Castro event. Last week, Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Bevan Dufty held a meeting with law enforcement officials and other city representatives to discuss the feasibility of having the non-alcohol event.

"The event is too big for the Castro," Newsom said Thursday. "Last year, we did everything we could to increase security and we still had the incident."

Last year, despite the presence of more than 500 public safety officers, nine people were wounded by one gunman at the Castro street party, which police estimated drew more than 100,000 people. In 2002, four people were stabbed at the event, which annually fills Market Street with drunken throngs of costumed and noncostumed partiers from the entire Bay Area.

This is not the first time city officials have tried to move the event out of the Castro: from 1996-2001, the city sponsored a Halloween event at Civic Center, but tens of thousands of people still attended the Castro event, doubling the security work for police officers.

"People got bored and walked to the Castro, so we had two events and two problems," Newsom said. "So, the idea of bringing it out to the port solves the proximity question."

Event producer Audrey Joseph, a member of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission who has organized the entertainment and other components of the Castro celebration in recent years, said The City is looking to bring a pop act with a wide age appeal to headline this year’s Halloween event.

"Names were thrown out like Prince, the Black Eyed Peas, Hilary Duff," Joseph said. "But we’re not at the point of approaching anybody yet."

The City is also still working out its strategy on how to "drive down interest" in the Castro, said Dufty, who represents the area.

City officials would still prepare for crowds at both locations, Newsom said.

"It’s going to take years to phase out the Castro.It won’t happen overnight," Newsom said. "So this will be a huge transition and a difficult challenge. We need to have a big name or event — something to really get people to gravitate down there."

Piers 30-32 are located on the Embarcadero, south of Market Street. In recent years, it has been the site of such events as KFOG radio’s Kaboom concert and fireworks show.

Having an event at a location surrounded by water is easier to manage than a neighborhood with many entrance points, as well as small streets and alleys, Joseph said.

"There are 17 or 18 intersections there in the Castro. It’s very hard to control and police that," she said.

beslinger@examiner.com

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