Halloween is back in the Castro for the first time in 17 years, with storefront activations, movie screenings, drag shows, and a block party that will last all day and night Saturday — with a party for the kids happening on Sunday.
We never thought we'd see the day, but with a push from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Manny Yekutiel's Civic Joy Fund, Halloween is back in some real way this year for the LGBTQ community in the Castro, in a way that it hasn't been since a mass shooting shut down the party in 2006.
This year's celebration spans two days, October 28 and 29, and unlike the more family-focused gatherings of recent years this one will be a night party as well as a day party, 1 p.m. to midnight — but there won't be any street closures happening, with activities more focused inside bars and businesses, and at the Castro Theatre.
As there was historically in the neighborhood, there will be a costume contest, only it will take place inside the Castro Theatre at 8 p.m. and will be hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Costumes get you in free, but $5 donations are encouraged, and there will be cash prizes in four costume categories: Spookiest, Sexiest, Funniest, and Best Overall.
Attendees will also be treated to a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show starting at 10 p.m., and Sister Roma also promises "surprise guests, special performances, and a few more tricks (or treats) up our sleeves."
Earlier in the day will be a $5 Horror Movie Marathon at the Castro, though not all the movies are quite in the horror genre. Death Becomes Her screens at 1:30 p.m., Edward Scissorhands at 3:45, and Hocus Pocus at 6 p.m.
There will also be activations at dozens of other businesses up and down Castro and Market streets, including a Halloween-themed "Lips & Lashes" drag brunch and a Ghostbusters-themed party later on at the Lookout; tarot readings and a witch on hand at Fabulosa Books; face-painting at Cliff's Variety; and lots more that you can see on this interactive map.
"The original idea was to bring [the old Castro] Halloween back," says Yekutiel, speaking to the Bay Area Reporter. But after further discussion with community stakeholders, Yekutiel said they decided to bring back "a spirit of Halloween when it started in the Castro that was a community feeling."
Back in August the BAR reported that no street closure was planned.
Everyone, it seems, still wants to avoid attracting the outside elements that turned the festive, highly costumed block party of two and three decades ago into something more dangerous. As the BAR recounts, four people were stabbed in the Castro on Halloween night in 2002, and then the entire party was shut down after the 2006 shooting in which nine people were shot and a tenth was trampled in the subsequent melee.
Yekutiel says the Civic Joy Fund plans to spend between $100,000 and $150,000 reimbursing businesses for their activations.
On Sunday, the Noe Street closure between Market and Beaver streets will happen again during the daytime like it did last year for a kid-focused Halloween gathering and trick-or-treat brigade.
"Let’s make this our safest Halloween yet," writes Sister Roma in the SF Bay Times. "Please visit the bars or come to the theater after dark. Don’t go out alone, stay alert, and try not to overindulge. It’s time to bring back Halloween in the Castro and keep it in the family."
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