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OfflineSpaceMonkey Happy Birthday
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Cold rain, police don't deter 4/20 revelers in Arcata....
    #404494 - 04/21/10 05:00 AM (6 years, 7 months ago)

Cold rain, police don't deter 4/20 revelers in Arcata; hundreds spend afternoon in Redwood Park for annual pot celebration
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Posted: 04/21/2010 01:27:12 AM PDT

ARCATA -- Increased enforcement and wet weather weren't enough to keep hundreds of revelers from descending on Redwood Park Tuesday afternoon to take part in the annual celebration of all things marijuana: 4/20.

While it was Eureka that took Web site The Daily Beast's title as the nation's most “pot-loving city” in a story released Tuesday, those in the know seem to think Arcata's Redwood Park is the place to be on what has become the nation's de facto marijuana holiday.

Humboldt State University freshman Stephanie Corah said she had seen videos of Arcata's 4/20 celebrations on the Internet while still living in Portland, Ore. Now living in town, Corah said she decided to come to the park Tuesday to check it out for herself.

But, it seems the reputation has traveled well beyond Oregon.

Taking refuge from the rain under some redwood trees, HSU junior Sara Rankin said she hosted some German travelers a few weeks back, and they knew full well of Arcata's marijuana-friendly reputation and, more specifically, of the annual April 20 gathering at Redwood Park.

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said that reputation, and all that comes with it, is a big reason for the increased enforcement folks saw firsthand Tuesday.

”It's not just this event, it's everything the event brings with it. There's an influx of people, and the town gets overrun,” Chapman said, adding that his department annually sees increases in petty theft,
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vandalism, illegal camping and public intoxication in the weeks leading up to April 20. “It's a national draw. People travel to Arcata for 4/20, and that's what we want to stop.”

But, 4/20 is far from being a uniquely Arcata phenomenon.

The numeric nickname of “420” for pot smoking reportedly stems from a group of San Rafael high school students who, in the 1970s, started gathering daily at 4:20 p.m. to smoke marijuana. Somehow, the name “420” stuck, and April 20 has morphed into a cultural event when stoners from all walks of life gather to celebrate what they have in common: marijuana.

The celebrations now occur coast to coast. Tuesday, large gatherings were reported from San Francisco to New York City. Still, Humboldt holds a unique draw, as can be evidenced by a group of Santa Rosa youths who chose to celebrate the day by gathering on Humboldt Street.

Redwood Park is generally Humboldt's largest 4/20 gathering, and often features drum circles, costumes, a festive atmosphere and lots and lots of marijuana smoke. Tuesday, people wearing rain ponchos and jackets, with many clutching umbrellas, huddled in the trees, trying to take refuge from the pouring rain. When 4:20 p.m. approached, cheers erupted from the crowd, and smoke filtered through the trees.

”Like it or hate it, marijuana is a strong part of our economy up here,” said Eric Leonhard, an HSU senior from San Diego, who said he doesn't smoke anything, but came to the park Tuesday to witness the scene. “It's a big part of life up here. If we were in New Orleans, we would be celebrating Mardi Gras.”

Others said the marijuana is secondary to the event itself.

”It's more the spiritual consciousness,” said a man who would only identify himself as JiMa. “Some people plan this months in advance -- it's a lot like a migration. These are positive, like-minded people.”

Not everyone sees things the same way.

Roger Morgan, executive director of the Coalition for a Drug Free California, said his group is accustomed to the annual celebration, but doesn't like it. Morgan said he worries 4/20 has become a daylong pro-marijuana advertisement, and believes it sends the wrong message to the state's kids.

But, Morgan said his coalition isn't putting too much effort into stopping the annual celebration, and is instead working to stop ballot initiatives and proposed legislation seeking to legalize pot in the state.

”We are gearing up to do battle to stop the proliferation of marijuana,” he said. “It's kind of like standing in front of a freight train right now but, ultimately, the truth will prevail.” 

Chapman said he believes Tuesday's ramped-up enforcement efforts were successful, estimating attendance at the event at about 300 people, as compared to thousands in past years.

He said the department also issued a laundry list of citations: 126 parking tickets, 24 moving violations, 25 tickets for violating Redwood Park's no smoking ordinance, 17 citations for illegal camping, eight citations for dog license violations and six for the illegal possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

”The main thing we're trying to accomplish is to make this an unattractive event,” Chapman said.

The department, Chapman said, also made a total of five arrests at the event -- two for public intoxication, one for drug possession, one for a sex-offender registry violation and another for giving false identification to a police officer -- and also detained a juvenile runaway from the Oroville area.

But, Chapman said, the department was also cautious not to go overboard or to be too heavy-handed.

”We don't want to make this event about police enforcement,” he said, standing under a covered awning in the park just before 4 p.m., watching a steady stream of people enter the park to attend the festivities. “These people you're seeing coming up here are just looking for a place to smoke pot, party and get high. ... There are people bringing kids. It's pouring rain, and you've got people pushing kids in strollers. It's just not the environment.”

Even with increased enforcement, Chapman conceded that the wet weather was probably more responsible for Tuesday's low turnout. But the rain wasn't enough to dampen the spirits of some.

”I'd say the sun isn't shining but, if you look in the eyes of most of the people here, you just might find it,” said JiMa.


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:guns: Don't Mistake My Kindness For Weakness :guns:


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OfflineDungenessDank
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Registered: 05/06/08
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Loc: PNW
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Re: Cold rain, police don't deter 4/20 revelers in Arcata.... [Re: SpaceMonkey]
    #404510 - 04/21/10 09:52 AM (6 years, 7 months ago)

I love Arcata man. The cops don't do shit but argue and hassle the hippies, far too lazy to take them in for selling or smoking some medical marijuana :yesnod:


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