City permits and sponsorship can’t kill the Hippie Hill 420 vibe

Every year thousands of people from every walk of life converge upon San Francisco’s famed Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park on April 20 to celebrate the one thing they all have in common: a love of all things cannabis.

Meeting at Hippie Hill on April 20 to smoke marijuana and celebrate the unofficial pot smoker’s holiday known as “420” is nothing new for the seasoned stoner. Granted, people smoking weed in this particular sector of the park, usually accompanied by a drum circle or two, is a fairly common sight on any given day. But 420 is different.

The hill and its surrounding areas on 420 are completely engulfed in smoke from the thousands of joints, blunts and bong rips taking place over every inch of the grassy knolls; it almost seems as if you are walking around in a ground-level cloud. The best ganja can be found everywhere you look. People are constantly walking around accepting donations for or gifting out everything from pre-rolled and pre-weighed joints and bags of buds, to the classic “special” cookies and edible goodies.

But this year was especially different. Thursday marked the first 420 festival at Hippie Hill since California legalized recreational marijuana and the first time the celebration had permits from the city. With this year’s festival came a combination of local merchants and cannabis-related sponsors, and with them, the money.

Financial help from sponsors helped maintain a fun, positive and, most importantly, safe environment for everyone in attendance. Having the event officially permitted allowed for stage structures, booths, food trucks, and fences creating clearly-marked entrances and exits. Organizers arranged for adequate landfill/recycle/compost bins, portable restrooms, security and an onsite ambulance to accommodate the large crowds and vendors. Another first for the pot fest this year: a large chunk of trash collected from the event will be composted.

Although the event was absolutely free, this year’s festivities were limited to the 18 and older crowd. ID’s and bags were checked at the gates.

According to the SF Examiner, there were no arrests made or citations handed out, and there were far less calls made for people seeking medical attention, giving this event even more reason to be considered a success for the City of San Francisco and its refer-loving residents.

Jonah Son, 21, is an SF State recreation, parks and tourism major and returning patron of the 420 celebration at Hippie Hill.

“I had a very positive time, there were good vibes, good music and it didn’t feel overly crowded until everyone started to leave,” said Son, who is originally from Sonoma. “I had been before, years ago, but it’s a lot different now. I thought it was definitely cool being there for the first sponsored Hippie Hill, just because this is history in the making, and moves are being made to make weed fully legal.”

People travel from all over the Bay Area and beyond to experience what it’s like to smokeout on 420 at Hippie Hill.

Le’alana Newman, 23, woke up before the sun to get ready for her first-ever trip to Hippie Hill.

“Me and my girls woke up hella early to get ready and drive out from Vacaville this morning,” said Newman. “It was another world for me! So many different people there, and nothing but good vibes and good music. It was way better than I ever expected.”

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