Haight Street merchants sponsor Golden Gate Park pot party for 420

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On April 20 each year, pot smokers all light up at 4:20 p.m. in Golden Gate Park. For the first time, it will be a city-sanctioned pot party. (KGO-TV)

In just three weeks, thousands of marijuana enthusiasts will crowd into San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for the annual 420 celebration.

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On April, 20 pot smokers all light up at 4:20 p.m. For the first time, it will be a city-sanctioned pot party.

A handful of merchants on Haight Street are pooling their money to sponsor the celebration, which will cover everything from porta-potties to security.

Golden Gate Park's Sharon Meadow is calm now, but in a few weeks it'll be taken over by pot smokers.

Like they have in years past, an estimated 10,000 people will cram into the eastern section of the part to celebrate marijuana.

"It has been awful, to put it mildly, to being slightly less than awful," said Haight Ashbury Improvement Association President Ted Lowenberg.

He has complained for years about the huge mess the unsanctioned event has left behind. This year though, a group of Haight Street merchants has chosen to sponsor the event.

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"born and raised native San Francisco," said Alex Aquino, who owns the clothing store Black Scale. "And I just want to do my part."

Aquino is spearheading the effort. "It's an organic event right," he said. "And I think that instead of hating on it, embrace it and you've got to coexist with it."

For the first time, there'll be fencing, porta-potties, security, vendor infrastructure, and an ambulance -- like any official event that Golden Gate Park would have.

The total cost of sponsoring is more than $100,000, which also includes paying for clean-up.

"Good, I'm all for somebody to step up and take the responsibility and cost," said Lowenberg.

The rec and park department says since there's nothing they can do to prevent the crowds and coming, allowing the merchants to sponsor the rogue event is the best option for the city.

Click here for more stories, photos, and video on marijuana.
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