As you read the following excerpts from the San Francisco Chronicle’s report on the 96th annual Bay to Breakers race, please remember that this group of people traversed seven miles of City streets, ending up in Golden Gate Park. The actions described below did not happen at a private party, nor did they take place on a nude beach or in a City enclave that is inhabited entirely by adults. Had you been taking a walk in the City with your children, or visited the Park on a lovely day to go the museum, you could easily have stumbled across this group. Please keep in mind, too, that public nudity and drinking alcohol on the streets are, technically, illegal; so too is marijuana usage:
Athletes in running shorts were sometimes spotted zipping by the beer-swigging hordes, giving nary a glance to the men and women sashaying around in skimpy underwear during the 97th annual race to the Pacific Ocean.
But by the time most of the 60,000 participants – 33,000 of them officially registered – had reached the notorious Hayes Street hill, those not already dressed in outlandish outfits had given up all pretense of actually jogging and instead had joined the revelry.
Ian Brown was a model of decorum compared to the many other nude men in the race, thoughtfully covering the region that counts with a bouquet of colorful flowers, albeit fake ones.
“I went for the minimalist approach, but not too minimal,” said Brown, 42, who came to San Francisco two years ago from England and was participating in his first Bay to Breakers. “You’ve got to do everything once in your life, and this is a chance of a lifetime.”
Nearby, in the middle of the street, a woman was being held upside down over a beer keg, with the keg’s spigot in her mouth. A large crowd of race participants shouted “chug, chug, chug” as she did just that.
There was, in fact, a fair amount of alcohol intake. Makeshift bars were set up along the route while parade-like floats filled with beer were being pulled by people wearing all manner of garb.
Despite the bacchanalia, there were no deaths, major injuries or felony arrests of any participants, according to Lauren Fernstrom, a race spokeswoman.
By 9:45 a.m., Hayes Street had become a rollicking, boozy, music-filled festival with naked and semi-naked people dancing to the tune of “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, even though some in Alabama may well have disapproved.
Hip-hop was playing from a home farther up the hill. Near the top, at Hayes and Fillmore, a beer bong station had been set up for race participants, few of whom were now running.
At 10:30 a.m. on Fell Street, people began spilling out of their homes and apartments, swaying, prancing and dancing in the streets as stereos played, cocktails flowed and pot smoke wafted.
Did any of you think I was exaggerating yesterday? I wasn’t, as you can see. I simply wasn’t charmed by this “San Francisco wackiness.” To me, this kind of behavior is the outward manifestation of a deep rot. The immaturity, the exhibitionism and the lawlessness are signs of civil decay, not wacky charm.