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Hippie Hill cancellation moves 4/20 festivities into the streets

With Hippie Hill celebration canceled, 4/20 moves into S.F. neighborhoods
With Hippie Hill celebration canceled, 4/20 moves into S.F. neighborhoods 03:34

There is no official 4/20 event in San Francisco this year with the cancellation of the annual Hippie Hill gathering, but there are expectations that there will be some crowds near Golden Gate Park's Hippie Hill regardless. 

"4/20, everyone came from all around and would shop, and this was such a great thing," said Alicia Loskot McCord of Land of the Sun on Haight Street. "And it's changed in the last 10 years dramatically. It's very different."

McCord is always happy to have some more foot traffic on Haight Street, but like a lot of merchants here, 4/20 also brings some uncertainty. This year's lack of an official event only means more questions, like how many people might be coming

"So I really have no idea," she said. "The merchants association - we all have talked about it, and it looks like it's going to be sort of the same."

"I think it'll be good for the merchant corridor here," said Michael Xavier of One Up Salon. "You know, we have a lot of Head shops."

Xavier knows a little something about crowds. He runs the Haight Street Fair, and he agrees that the 4/20 celebration has evolved over the years.

"A lot of people did not like the fencing of the whole thing," he said. "Feeling that it disrupted the natural spontaneous gathering that it was."

And in some years the crowds, the weather, and a long day of drugs and alcohol, have all added up to be too much for the neighborhood.

"I think that became a problem too. Alcohol and what not," McCord said. "It just becomes crazy."

Typically, the official event's crowds descend upon all of the areas around the eastern end of Golden Gate Park, not just the Haight. In recent years that's caused trouble in certain places, like nearby Cole Valley.

While there is no organized event in the park, there are still plans for parking and traffic enforcement, as well as portable bathrooms. McCord says she's optimistic for crowds - and calm.

"So I think I am going to position myself here and sell blankets," she said of her plans. "Our $19.99 blankets."

How many people show up for the unofficial gathering remains anyone's guess.

"So it's kind of a crapshoot to know what's going to happen tomorrow," Xavier said.

"I am not sure how it's gonna be," McCord added. 

Organizers of San Francisco Weed Week are also exploring alternative ways to celebrate on the date with two parties held at Mirus Gallery on Howard Street on Saturday.

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