A revived Castro Halloween party billed as “Castro Family Halloween” will be a Sunday afternoon affair, but with big-name drag queens and costume contests for kids, adults, and pets. It will be preceded by an early-evening Day-Glo costume party on Saturday, hosted for the second time by Comfort & Joy.
The once-famed and glorious Castro Halloween block party met its demise with an unfortunate 2006 Halloween shooting that injured ten people. In the next few subsequent years, a police state-style crackdown effectively ensured fun would not had, but at least people weren’t shot by some out-of-town hoodlums. You might remember they tried to do a weak-sauce replacement version of the party at Civic Center, but the metal detectors and heavy security made that event lamer than the house that hands out celery to trick-or-treaters. Nothing has ever effectively replaced what was once one of the greatest outdoor Halloween spooktaculars in the United States.
But the Castro is giving it another ghoulish go, or at least, the Castro Merchants Association is reanimating a version of the old Halloween block party. KGO reports the Merchants Association is throwing a Castro Family Halloween Block Party on Sunday, October 30, but it will be from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., over on Noe Street, and it's more of a wholesome kids, dogs, trick-or-treating, and drag queens on-their-better-behavior kind of affair.
"You can't have Halloween without the Castro," Castro Merchants Association co-president Dave Karraker told KGO. "Everybody loves to come to the Castro to people watch and we think it's going to be a great event."
Definitely more people and dogs celebrating Halloween this year in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood. Behold the cutest Cerberus a.k.a. Hell Hound you’ll ever see… 🐶🎃 #cerberus #hellhound #castrohalloween pic.twitter.com/ECgcZBQkf2— Shivauncé (@shivaunsay) November 1, 2021
According to the official Castro Family Halloween Block Party webpage, there will be separate costume contests for kids, pets, and adults, all with substantial cash prizes, though registration is required to enter. A main stage will be emceed by Per Sia and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Dana Van Iquity and Eva Lynn Goode, there will be a larger-than-life Drag Queen Story Hour, and “Free photos with the Castro wicked witch and her ghoulie friends.”
Though reading the fine print of the event announcement, we see the event is “Co-sponsored by Another Planet Entertainment,” who are of course, your controversial new operators of the Castro Theatre. And they’ve certainly had tension with the Castro Merchants Association, as just as recently as this week, we learned the Merchants Association still refuses to endorse Another Planet Entertainment’s plans for the venue. So this may be another way Another Planet Entertainment is trying to butter up that group and the neighborhood writ large, but the timing is certainly awkward.
And the question remains of whether a “renegade” Castro Halloween party will materialize Saturday or Sunday night (or even Monday night, the 31st?). During the darker days if the pandemic, some crowds did form in 2020, despite being highly discouraged.
Also, there was an outdoor Day-Glo Halloween party in the Castro in 2021, thrown by the queer Burner-type collective Comfort & Joy. That party is happening again, on Saturday, October 29, on the same block of Noe Street off Market where the family affair happens Sunday. Glow in the Streets is a free event, scheduled for 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The invite for the Castro Family Halloween Block Party also notes “Décor by Comfort & Joy.”
Image: Slow Sanchez Street SF via Facebook