So apparently the forces of sobriety have gripped the last great exemplar of San Francisco’s partying ways: the annual Bay to Breakers run. ING is this year’s sponsor of the event, and they have announced that B2B will be a dry event this year, with a zero-tolerance policy for floats, nudity and drinking along the route.
It would really be a shame to see the B2B go the way of Halloween in the Castro. For many Bay Area residents, Bay to Breakers is the one place they feel safe to get their freak on, to try on a different persona than the one they wear every day. Events like this are also what make San Francisco a highly entertaining place to live and to visit. Who doesn’t love to see the super-old naked guy running alongside Dick Cheney in an orange prison jumpsuit?
This is sad news for most B2B participants, and not surprising given the sobering trend in the last few years to try to turn San Francisco into Walnut Creek. The powers-that-be have cancelled Halloween in the Castro, they’ve prohibited alcohol at many city events including the Haight Street Fair. What’s next? No bondage gear on Folsom Street?
To be fair, I understand where ING is coming from. I went to B2B last year, and even I was shocked at just how drunk and sloppy many of the “runners” were. And at how often I saw participants (all male, of course) urinating on trees and cars. I was glad I didn’t live within a few blocks of the race, and that it wasn’t my job to clean up the urine, the puke and the empty beer cups along the way.
But ING doesn’t need to throw the beerbong out with the bath water. Just because (an admittedly very large group of) participants make a mess of the race doesn’t mean you have to ruin the party for those of us who enjoy the revelry responsibly.
There are all kinds of less dramatic solutions to the problem. There is clearly a need for more portable toilets and trash cans along the route. Organizers can encourage the police monitoring the event to cite the clearly-very-intoxicated for public drunkenness. There’s no excuse for being so sloppy you can’t stand up. Once cited, can we get them to scrub the sidewalks of Hayes Valley or the Haight? That’s what we call karmic justice.
Presumably ING will be spending millions of dollars promoting the B2B event. Why not include some educational outreach in their advertising budget? Ask the public to party responsibly, to pack out what they bring in, to “be green” and treat their environment with care. Treat them like adults and give ’em a chance to get it right.
There are blog posts and Facebook pages dedicated to saving the party. Some suggest boycotting the event, and others promote partying anyway – they can’t arrest everyone, right? But rather than asking the neighborhoods to continue to bear the brunt of a day-long outdoor roving fraternity party, why don’t we all pledge to be responsible revelers, and to encourage our friends to do the same?