Last month's Star Wars opening brought with it plenty of opportunities to celebrate all things Jedi, most notably that large-scale lightsaber battle on December 18 in Sue Bierman Park. The event, organized by Canadian non-profit Newmindspace, brought thousands of Star Wars enthusiasts together in an attempt to set a record for the world's largest lightsaber battle. Unfortunately for the city of San Francisco. However, it appears the organizers may have been seduced by the Dark Side, as the company's local connection allegedly misled them about city permits — leaving taxpayers with a bill in the thousands of dollars.
Unlike the unpermitted Valentine's Day pillow fight which frequently requires massive amounts of city cleanup, the passionate enthusiasts/nerds that attended the lightsaber battle took the time to clean up after themselves. This time around, however, Hoodline reports that the sheer act of all that battling on park grass did some serious damage.
"The grass is not being reseeded," Joey Kahn of the Recreation and Park Department told the publication when it inquired about closure signs. "The area was closed due to damage from the unpermitted Light Saber Event that occurred a few weeks ago. Their unpermitted, for-profit event cost San Francisco taxpayers $5,220-$2,000 in damage to the turf and $3,220 for park rangers."
Those who frequent Sue Bierman Park, which is to be the site of the Super Bowl City Stage, will just have to get used to the now semi-mud pit as reseeding efforts cannot take place until after Super Bowl 50.
"No [restorative] work will be done until after the Super Bowl and after the area dries sufficiently," noted Kahn.
Battle organizers, for their part, have admitted that things did not go exactly as planned.
"Newmindspace is a non-profit... and works with local, independent organizers, and the organizer for this particular event was Nikki Sparks," explained organization co-founder Kevin Bracken in a statement. "She misrepresented the permit situation in SF as well as in San Diego and we are not working with her on future events. We will be personally supervising all of our future events instead of using our hub-and-spoke model," he added.
While at first blush this may read like a complete passing of the buck, it appears that Nikki Sparks was happy to be on the receiving end of said buck.
"I organize fan and geek events and have never had a problem before," Sparks explained. "We usually just kinda show up and do our thing and we have never gotten in trouble."
As to the damage done to the park? Well, parks are there to be used, right?
"I pay taxes here," noted Sparks, "and I feel like this cost way less than some of the annual parades they put on, and we were able to bring joy to 2,000 people, including parents and children."
"I do not plan on reimbursing the city," Sparks helpfully explained.
It seems that in this battle between the forces of Light and Dark, the only clear losers are the taxpayers of San Francisco.
Previously: Video: Friday's Rainy Lightsaber Battle