It was ten years ago today that someone fired a gun into a crowd of Halloween revelers at the annual Castro block party, hitting nine people, with another person injured in the resulting panicked rush. That violence led city officials to put an end to the sanctioned block closure and costumed bacchanal that in previous years had drawn tens of thousands of people. KRON4 reports that after a decade, some residents think the city should bring the party back — but Mayor Ed Lee, meanwhile, is warning people to stay away — especially if you live outside of San Francisco.
"It was the place to be in San Francisco," Adela Dominguez told the channel. "I know they tried to move it to downtown by civic center and it wasn’t the same, so I don’t know, I mean it’s just something about the Castro, having it here to celebrate. It’s just kind of sad that we don’t do that anymore.”
Indeed, even one year after the shooting some locals were upset that the tragedy had effectively ended a San Francisco tradition. In 2007, a group of protesters staged a "death of Castro Halloween funeral procession" that marched through the neighborhood on Halloween night.
People still party in the Castro on Halloween, of course, as many bars are typically overflowing with costumed celebrators. And while tonight is expected to be no different in that sense, city officials are encouraging people to keep things close to home — and, if you live in the South or East Bay, to stay there.
“Halloween is a fun family tradition, and I encourage all San Franciscans to be safe when they are out celebrating,” San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee said in a press release. “There are many wonderful and safe events happening in San Francisco neighborhoods and throughout the Bay Area, and we are encouraging people to celebrate Halloween in their local neighborhoods and cities.”
Lee is backed up by interim police chief Toney Chaplin, who warned those planning to come to the Castro tonight that they shouldn't expect to have the run of the place. “We want to be clear, there will be NO street closure and NO event in San Francisco's Castro District," explained Chaplin in the same release. "The Castro, while open for business, will not be closed for a street party.”
And, just in case the message wasn't clear enough, Chaplin reiterated Mayor Lee's entreaty. “For those people who would come into the Castro — or any part of the City — with bad intentions and exhibiting bad behavior, the message is very clear," added Chaplin, "stay home.”