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"Unofficial" 4/20 celebration draws mellow crowd to Golden Gate Park

"Unofficial" 4/20 celebration draws mellow crowd to S.F. Golden Gate Park
"Unofficial" 4/20 celebration draws mellow crowd to S.F. Golden Gate Park 04:36

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park was packed with people on Saturday but the crowd size was much smaller compared to previous years, estimated at around 1,000 who gathered on this 4/20 to enjoy marijuana, good vibes and beautiful spring weather.

 This year, organizers couldn't raise enough money to hold an official celebration and so canceled the 4/20 event. Nonetheless, people showed up on Saturday afternoon.

"We like it organic," said San Francisco resident Autumn Black.

Many people said they liked the non-structured event with no fencing, no gates and no large corporations.

"I much prefer the organic feel than the commercialization that's been on in the last few years," said Debbie Harms.

Traveling all the way from Utah, Harms and her friend Shanna LeBlanc visit Hippie Hill on 4/20 every year. They've been making the trip for about 15 years.

"We stumbled upon it one year and we had so much fun and we said 'Let's do it every year,'" LeBlanc laughed.

They say not having an official event brought them back to how they used to celebrate cannabis in a more communal atmosphere.

"Everybody seems happy. The drum circle is going. People are dancing. Just people gathering not regulated, not ruled to death," Harms said.

Previous 4-2/0 festivals drew thousands of people and featured live music and dozens of vendors.

Minus an official event this year, the city partnered with VOLO Sports to offer free sporting activities at Robin Williams Meadow, just below Hippie Hill. Cannabis lovers were encouraged to take part. Some thought it was a way of crowd control by activating the space.

"We've got pick-up soccer. We've got cornhole here on the west lawn. We've got some bocce in the back corner. We've got some spike ball. So we've got all kinds of fun stuff. If people want to get on the hill and do their thing and then come down and hang out with us, we're all for it," said VOLO Sports vice president Greg Sileo.

The city assigned officers and medics to keep people safe. Volunteers also handed out free water.

Harms and LeBlanc liked how it turned out and said they'll be back next year.

"It's a really nice, good vibe like the good old days," Harms said.

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