Frisco Fun

Five naked people ran up Haight Street followed by Jabba the Hut. It is the Bay to Breakers run to kick off the summer season of San Francisco festivals. No costume is too outlandish; not even your birthday suit. The beautiful city famous for its fog enshrouded iconic bridges, twisty vertiginous streets, Alcatraz prison in the bay and streetcars has a number of summer festivals and if you are there for one of them then don’t miss out and head for where the crowds are. There is bound to be some fun as the locals let their hair down in that inimitable Frisco way.

May Festivals:
Bay to Breakers:
The season kicks with this bizarre Sunday morning fun run race from the Bay to the Sea. San Francisco’s 12k version of a mini-marathon is one of the largest races in the world, usually attracting over 60,000 participants and over 100,000 spectators.
Serious athletes join costumed runners (and of course, more than a few naked people) for a huge celebration that starts at the bay and ends at the ocean.
Along the way, thousands line the streets, lean out of their windows and peer over the edges of balconied roofs to cheer on the runners and enjoy the early morning party. One family even moved their sofa onto the sidewalk to watch the runners in complete comfort.
Despite the prevalence of frivolous costumes, for some it is a serious race. Among the favourites in the race each year is a group who run together in a centipede costume. Those who run in their birthday suit have to ensure they stick to the route. If they stray off it or into a streetside café for a morning latté or frappuccino to get their caffeine hit, they could end up getting cited. It is guaranteed it will be the only time you will see a naked man running with a snotgreen wheatgerm smoothie.

Haight Street Fair:
Gone are most of the hippies of the Haight and the annual fair, although an excuse for some crusties to come out of the woodwork, is mainly for tourists. Even those aging hippies you see just hanging out on the corner of Haight and Ashbury are most likely to be blowins for the day from sedate Santa Cruz down the coast. Few who attend this remnant hippy fair remember the Haight’s heyday when it was the capital of counterculture and was host to 1967’s Summer of Love. Tie dye t-shirts and happy hippy trinkets, the occasional hash brown and the possibility of getting your hair braided or a love tattoo all hark back to that former era.
Low rent Victorian houses of the Haight housed the hippy communes of the 1960s. But long gone are the psychedelic dreamers of an area of drug-induced narcissism. Since the rise of Silicon Valley the techies have moved in and driven up the rents. The former home patch of the Grateful Dead and Janis Joplin still has Amoeba records and Ben & Jerry icecreams, which remain as bastions of authenticity, but The Gap has moved in.

June Festivals
Gay Pride: Since the 1940s when there was a gay purge in the military and those stationed in the Pacific were dumped in San Francisco, the city always has had a pinker hue than most other American cities. The Castro is their neighbourhood and Pride is there biggest party. Pride marches have their origin in New York and the famous raid on a small pub…
And yet this is the most political of festivals.

To give it its full name the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender (LGBT) Parade Civic Centre Plaza in front of City Hall,, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and their ilk that hold court. They are a group of drag queens that are garbed in the threads of the Carmelites with an edge.The most colourful and flamboyant of festivals. In 1978, the Gay flag was invented in SF for this parade by Gilbert Baker. Political message under the auspices the rainbow cross.
Sister Constance Craving, Chaps clad rodeo queens, village people clones.Sexual self expression SF police officers allianceFreedom in Christ Evangelical Church Dykes on bikes. Leather Alley.Bar and bathouse culture of the 1970s era has been quelled by the AIDs tragedy with an estimated 100,000 died.
Flirty teasers parade down market.

Fourth of July:
America’s Independence Day is not celebrated with as much gusto in San Francisco as you might expect. Many San Francisco residents escape the city for the July national holiday. Indeed, there seems to be almost a local ambivalence to the nation’s greatest holiday. A fair like atmosphere down at Fisherman’s wharf seems solely to cater for tourists who stuff themselves with crustaceans from the local crabshops. For the fireworks crescendo that end the day climb atop one of the city’s many hills to get the best vantage point for a vista of the pyrotechnics.
Cinco de Mayo: Mexicans in the Mission celebrate a battle victory,
Carnaval: Want to try some spicy jerk chicken? Or learn to dance the Merengue or the Calypso?
North Beach Jazz: n mid-July, the North Beach Jazz Festival highlights the soul of San Francisco. While some know North Beach for its many fabulous Italian, this neighborhood was once the center of San Francisco’s jazz scene. This weeklong festival hosts local and international talent. Several shows are free, and nothing says summer like lying in Washington Square Park listening to free jazz in the evening. Bossa nova and latin and acid jazz,
September Festivals
Burning Man:
Once the great alternative cult art festival, the Burning Man of Nevada has become a great Californian tourist attraction. It started with two friends, Larry Harvey and Jerry James, symbolically burning a wooden man on the Summer Solstice in 1986. The festival originated on the scenic Baker Beach with views of the Golden Gate Bridge, but Golden Gate Park superintendents objected to the fact that the wooden man pyre was larger than a barbecue. The festival was moved to the Labor Day Weekend and was relocated to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Since then it has reached a cult status.

Mooncake Festival:
The moon represents the Chinese Yin or female side and the autumnal festival is the greatest tribute to this God. According to Chinese legend a rebellion was promulgated against Mongol oppressors when a Chinese leader secretly sent a message to his co-conspirators in a mooncake. The biggest Chinatown on the West Coast comes alive with music, dancing and of course consumption of mooncakes to beat then band.

Folsom Street Fair:
Half a million flock to SOMA’S leather fest. No holds are barred at the world’s largest “leather and kink” event where you can watch a leather clad man with chains attached get spanked with a whip and even join in yourself if you are tempted. Latest in bondage gear and leather to beat the band. This is a place for the voyeur, but not for those ethically challenged vegetarian objectionists as the leather is real.

October Festivals
Columbus Day: Since 1869, the Italian community in San Francisco has celebrated Columbus Day.
Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival: The ultimate celebration of the orange legume. It is however an anticlimax apart from viewing the fields of giant yellow footballs and the eating sickly sweet pumpkin pie until you feel completely nauseous.
Halloween: The Castro is the location for the last major festival in the San Franciso calendar as wintry weather begins to kick in. Halloween parading, as you might expect in the Castro, is a mixture between a gigantic exhibitionist dragfest and a huge gothic fancy dress. It can be cold on Halloween nights so some of the scantily dressed costumed are more likely to freeze to death, but they don’t ever turn down an invitation to show off all their wares. And some of them exhibit their private parts in such a fetish tangle that you feel that it would make even those naked people running in the Bay to Breakers blush. Anything still goes in the Castro and it is America most liberal neighbourhood. Even though the effect is often over orchestrated, it does still occasionally shock and dare I say it even thrill.


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