SAN FRANCISCO - Celebrating Halloween in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood is a longstanding tradition.
With the pandemic last year, many people were not comfortable gathering. Restaurants and bars were not able to serve indoors. But this Halloween is a different story.
Castro business owners are expecting large crowds this weekend. Some bars are offering live entertainment. There will even be a street party.
"It's very exciting. I love to perform especially for a special occasions," said Liam Ocean who will be performing with his LED hoops as part of a block party in the Castro called ‘Glow in the Streets’ Saturday.
"Do a little bit of hula hooping. Get the audience excited," said Ocean, "Keep the audience in suspense. Make sure I'm having fun and so is everyone else."
He will be among the many artists performing at this annual outdoor Halloween event that started in 2017, but was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
Organizers expect this year's turnout to be larger than ever after the isolation brought on by COVID concerns.
"To be able to witness each other's creativity in person is incredibly moving. We've been staring at each other through screens for so long," said Larissa Archer who will be co-emceeing ‘Glow in the Streets’.
At Beau, Joshua Coo, the bar owner, predicted this weekend may be the start of the Castro making a fully recovery from the pandemic, "I wouldn't be surprised if we see the full out return of Castro Halloween celebrating in the streets sometime in the future."
He added that this weekend's entertainment will include DJs, drag queens, and go-go-dancers. "So many people come the Castro to party specifically for Halloween. That tradition will never die."
At Cliff's Variety, owner Terry Bennet said Halloween falling on Sunday is great for business, giving people more time to celebrate, "A week ago, we still had a full section of napkins and plates. And as you can see we're down to a few dozen plates."
The last minute scramble to buy costumes, makeup and decorations makes this one of the busiest times of the year.
"Excitement exploded. People were ready to decorate. This last week, we've seen people excited to dress up and go out. Halloween is happening this year," said Bennett.
There's anticipation and excitement at seeing life return to some semblance of what it was pre-COVID.
"Halloween is sort of an invitation to be whoever you want to be. It's fun to experiment in that space. It's fun to see who people chose to be for a day," said Ocean.
The Glow in The Streets Block Party will be held on Noe Street between Market and Beaver streets.
It's from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
It's free but organizers are encouraging donations.
Police say there will be no major street closures but there will be stepped up patrols.