The “unofficial” 4/20 celebration draws a quiet crowd to Golden Gate Park

SAN FRANCISCO – Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was packed with people on Saturday, but the crowd was much smaller than in previous years, estimated at about 1,000 people who gathered this April 20 to enjoy marijuana, good atmosphere and beautiful spring weather.

This year the organizers were unable to raise enough money to hold an official party and therefore canceled the event 4/20. Still, people showed up on Saturday afternoon.

“We like organic,” says San Francisco resident Autumn Black.

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

“I prefer the organic feel to the commercialization that has taken place in recent years,” says Debbie Harms.

Harms and her friend Shanna LeBlanc travel all the way from Utah and visit Hippie Hill every year on April 20. They have been making this trip for about 15 years.

“We came across it one year and we had so much fun and we said, ‘Let’s do it every year,’” LeBlanc laughed.

They say the lack of an official event took them back to the way they used to celebrate cannabis in a more communal atmosphere.

“Everyone seems happy. The drum circle is spinning. People are dancing. It’s just people coming together, not regulated, not sentenced to death,” Harms said.

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

Apart from 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 enthusiasts were encouraged to participate. Some thought it was a way to control the crowd by activating the room.

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

The city has assigned officers and medics to protect the people. Volunteers also handed out free water.

Harms and LeBlanc were happy with the results and said they will return next year.

“It’s a really nice, good atmosphere, just like the good old days,” Harms said.

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