It looked a bit hazy when people started hunting for their lunch on the streets of San Francisco, but it wasn’t from a foggy morning. It was from cigarette smoke, only they didn’t look or smell like cigarettes. The date was April 20th, but most refer to it as 4-20. Back in 1971, a group of youngsters from San Rafael, California, heard that there was an abandoned cannabis crop, for which they searched the area near their high school’s Statue of Louis Pasteur—their meeting point at 4:20pm. Their search was to no avail, but they coined the term 4-20 and launched a counterculture that celebrates cannabis smoking on April 20th at 4:20pm.
420 is observed in multiple parts of the world, but the largest congregation takes place at Hippie Hill in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park. Hippies grew fond of smoking pot there, a subculture that moved to the Haight-Ashbury district back in the day. A free-spirited community from all over the Bay Area flocked over to Hippie Hill on Monday to set encampment and putting something in their pipe and smoking it—most of it illegal in the rest of the country. Rap battles scattered the park among the dancing and napping sea of people. Fire performers and hula-hoopers couldn’t have been missed through the massive crowds either.
There was an overwhelming entrepreneurial spirit thriving at the park as well. Locals set up their stands selling cannabis merchandise such as necklaces, t-shirts and most popular, socks. The unauthorized trade also included edible candy, tamales, pot brownies, drinks, hotdogs, and of course plenty of munchies. Donations of any kind were also being accepted by a group of youngsters holding a burlap sack. Masseuses were also literally on hand, to provide their services. Hippie Hill is near stores, bars and restaurants in the Haight-Ashbury District, so great profits were made on the eventful Monday.
Despite the counter-cultural atmosphere, fashion was a huge presence, too. Colorful patterned outfits, top hats, corsets, clunky boots, flower crowns, braids, homemade accessories and layers and layers of loose clothing clothed the hippies, hipsters, steampunks and bohemians in attendance.
420 was celebrated by the free-spirited and open-minded. The Hippie Hill was monitored by the San Francisco Police Department and Fire Department, and documented by NBC Bay Area.
It was another day in San Francisco.