Food trucks to replace Pink Sat. stage
by Seth Hemmelgarn
In an effort to alter the tone of the event, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will replace the main stage at this year's Pink Saturday with food trucks.
The move may disappoint people drawn to the annual street party by the large sound system, which last year occupied a spot near Castro and Market streets. Concerns about safety at the event have grown in recent years, and organizers are indicating they want a more mellow celebration.
This year's Pink Saturday begins at 5 p.m. on June 23. Donation gates will close at 11, and the music will end at 11:15. The suggested donation will be $5.
The event, which takes place every year on the night before San Francisco's LGBT Pride Parade, draws tens of thousands of people. Thousands of dollars are granted to charities after the party.
Sister Selma Soul, Pink Saturday event chair, talked to members of the city's Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation about the food trucks at the panel's Thursday, April 12 meeting.
"We wanted to help diversify the tone of the event," she said before the board's eight voting members who were present unanimously approved street closures for this year's party.
Soul, whose legal name is James Bazydola, later told the Bay Area Reporter that organizers are trying to make this year's event "more of a block party."
She said a portion of the crowd would be disappointed with the loss of the main stage.
"You can't make everyone happy," she said, adding that the Sisters would gauge people's reactions.
There will be DJ stations throughout the event, and the Sisters are hoping people will be more spread out so there's "not one lump of folks at an intersection," said Soul.
Alcohol isn't permitted at Pink Saturday, but people will still have plenty of chances to drink that Saturday as area bars are generally packed.
"We figured the food was a great thing for people, especially if they've been drinking all day," said Soul.
She also said having the food trucks would help free up space for participants from the San Francisco Dyke March, which is also set for June 23 and ends up in the Castro.
"We want to make sure their presence is welcome there and embraced," said Soul. "That was really the goal of that placement."
The Dyke March's DJ sound truck will be placed near Market and Noe streets, which the Sisters say will be the march's terminating point.
The Sisters' street closure application says their goal is to have at least 10 food trucks at the Castro and Market intersection. Soul said they don't have any food trucks under contract yet. The Sisters are asking the vendors for about $500 per truck, though that figure hasn't been finalized, she said.
Terrance Alan, who along with John Wood produced and paid for the main stage for years, said that if the Sisters "feel this change is what is needed for the health of the event, then we all support it." He described the music he and Wood supplied as "popular alternative dance music." Wood didn't respond to interview requests.
Another change this year is the Sisters' ability to talk about Pink Saturday. The group of charitable drag nuns has previously been prohibited from advertising the event before the date of the party, but that condition has been lifted by city officials.
Soul said security measures include hiring at least 50 private security staffers, as they did last year. Also, more Sisters would be inside the event to help "de-escalate" tension, she said.
Sergeant Chuck Limbert, LGBT liaison for Mission Station, which oversees the Castro and surrounding neighborhoods, has been involved in planning for Pink Saturday. He said extra police would be assigned to this year's event, but he wouldn't say how much additional staff there would be.
Police "will definitely be present, and we will not tolerate anyone who is drunk or is coming with the intent to create a disturbance at this venue," said Limbert.
Two years ago, Stephen Powell, 19, was shot to death around the time the Pink Saturday ended. Police have indicated they suspect people from outside the neighborhood were involved in the shooting.
Police Homicide Inspector Kevin Jones said this week that the case is still open, but "We've exhausted every lead that we've been given."
He said investigators developed leads themselves.
"We didn't get a lot of help from the public," he said.
Jones urges people "to report problems as soon as they see something."
Anyone with information regarding Powell's death may contact the homicide unit at (415) 553-1145. Information may also be provided anonymously at (415) 575-4444, or text-a-tip to TIP411. The case number is 100 589 764.