City-sanctioned 420 celebration ushers in new orderly era

There were clouds over Golden Gate Park Wednesday, but no rain in the afternoon, just people puffing and enjoying the 420 celebration of legal marijuana for the first time after the pandemic shutdown.

A crowd estimated at around 20,000 turned out at Hippie Hill.

"A good day to chill in the park, listen to some vibes. It was so much fun," said Brianna Marissa who says she drove from Stockton to attend the event for the first time.

For the first time, marijuana sales were allowed with some 40 vendors and sponsors.

"Instead of taxpayer dollars to actually make this happen, make it safe and clean, we use funding from sponsorships and donations," said Alex Aquino, the event organizer and a San Francisco native who founded the production company Sounds Bazaar.

"Especially right now with fentanyl going around you might not know. With our products and everyone else's products in California, they are lab-tested," said Omar Sanchez, spokesman for The Green Door, one of the vendors.

Also, new this year, only adults 21-years and older were allowed in. There was also plenty of security.

Some attendees said the event felt safe.

"This is my fourth time," said Taelisha White of Vallejo, "And this time I feel more safe. They got the gates going, you feel me? It's no violence, nobody shooting each other, it's all love and positivity and I love it."

"The best thing about it was the area, no fighting no violence," said Devin Smith of Memphis who was attending for the first time.

"There was a little less traffic than last time as well," said Kennedy Smith of Oakland.

Organizers teamed up with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department staff to handle cleanup which has been a big concern in the past.

"People would leave tons of trash behind in the meadow, in the Haight," said Tamara Barak Aparton, a San Francisco Recreation and Park Dept. spokeswoman.

This year, though, some attendees tried to do their part.

"We turned around after the show and we just realized there's just trash everywhere so some of us just started reaching down and grabbing stuff to throw away," said Nikki Hatch of Fairfield, who was scooping up trash into a bag.

When the show ended, a line of police on motorcycles and park rangers helped sweep the crowd toward the waiting shuttle buses while cleanup crews followed.

"It might have been the smoothest 420 we've had. The weather was good. People seemed to be having a good time and respecting our park," said Barak Aparton.

"We cleared the meadow by 6 p.m. which is a new record according to the organizers," said San Francisco Park Rangers Chief David Murphy.

"Post-pandemic so everyone's happy to be out," said Christian Prollamante, who was with the southern California vendor West Coast Cure.

A little peace that is well-needed, some say, during these stressful times with the pandemic and war overseas.

"There's a lot more important things happening but if you can take a little break just today, hopefully help some people," said Prollamante.

Chief Murphy says there were no arrests or incidents. Medics treated four medical cases, but all were minor and did not require transport to the hospital.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana or