Friday, May 19, 2006

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Bay To Breakers

One of the great things about living in SF is that there is never a shortage of weird, wacky, and wonderful events and happenings going on. Sunday is the 95th Annual Bay To Breakers "race". Below is my explanation of what it is as well as a first hand account of my virgin Bay To Breakers experience a year ago. Last year the most popular thing was Popes - they were everywhere. This year I think it will be Dick Cheyney Hunting Club members and various homages to Dubya. Anyhow, here's last year's writeup, and I'll have pics and a writeup of this year's event on Monday:

I took part in the 94th annual Bay to Breakers, which is damn near impossible to describe, but I will feebly attempt anyhow. This is an annual 8 mile race/walk which starts in the Financial District downtown (read: Bay) and winds it's way west through the city, ending at Ocean Beach on the Pacific Ocean (read: Breakers). Something like 40,000 people take part, and the only way I can begin to describe it is that it is The Peachtree Road Race or Boston Marathon meets Burning Man meets Carnival meets Halloween meets the biggest keg party you have ever seen.

Yes, those are tortillas flying through the air.
No, I have no idea how the tradition started.

Suffice to say that unlike the Peachtree or the Marathon, the main attraction here is not the elite runners who actually compete, or in this case even the runners at all. It is the thousands and thousands of people who come out dressed up in funny and outrageous costumes, or not at all. And all along the route, there are house parties with music blasting, live bands in the street, etc. There are several groups of people who dress in a similar theme, and many, many shopping carts full of kegs and other adult beverages.

Honey Bees in fishnets?
Not a bad way to start off a Sunday morning..

The creme de la creme, however, are the people who design and build floats and get their crew to push them the entire race. Some incredible engineering feats involving wheel design, mobility, and keg operation on the floats - lots and lots of Engineering School tuition well spent methinks.

Beer-A-Mid 1. First sighting from afar.

Beer-A-Mid 2. Please note the propane grill on the back,
so that the dude pushing in the back can cook brats as he goes.
This is in addition to the kegs on the front.

Highlights: The race starts at 8 a.m., and for some unknown reason everyone tosses tortillas in the air, so you have thousands of people chucking tortillas in the air and screaming. Bummed my first beer at 8.05 a.m.; at about 8.30 we came upon a float which was literally a floating bar, with bartenders serving cocktails to "recover the cost of the float". Two screwdrivers later and we're on our way...

Regulation hoop bolted onto a platform base with
caster wheels on the bottom. Talk about a moving target.

I saw a group of jailbirds, a group of Pamplonians running with the bulls, two men dressed as Serena and Venus Williams, a group of referees blowing whistles and throwing flags, not 1 but two moving basketball goals, each regulation size and bolted to a makeshift moving float, three groups of Elvises (or is it Elvai?), several disco-themed groups, many many pirates, the Harlem Globetrotters, men dressed as beer bottles, men dressed as milkmen, a ton of Popes, a gorilla, and the San Diego Chicken among others. I also saw more naked men today than my entire life combined up until yesterday, which is in no way a good thing.

-"So, what did you do this weekend?"
-"My buddies and I dressed up as beer bottles, pushed
two shopping carts full of kegs 8 miles, and drank. You?"

The biggest and best group of Elvises / Elvai.

Three best floats were:

3) A giant Yellow makeshift Hummer, complete with about 8 kegs underneath in the back which were engineerred so that you could simly pour beer form one of several taps coming out of the back bumper. At one point a group of Pirates attacked it and attempted to seize it and board it.

The Hummer, complete with 8 kegs below the
back bumper and taps on said bumper.

2) A float with it's own miniature golf course with actual holes and assorted drinking paraphanalia, including strategically placed cupholders to hold your beverage while you played.

Miniature golf float, complete with slightly inebriated, plaid-pant
wearing dude golfing a pink ball. This isn't your father's Putt-Putt.

1) A Pope-Mobile, complete with kegs and a PVC pipe and plastic 'bullet-proof chamber' for the Pope himself, being pushed by a huge group of priests and nuns. On the side of the Pope-Mobile it said in big letters: "Pope My Ride". Epic.

Pope My Ride. Simply Epic.

As if the day wasn't random enough, about 1/2 way through
Golden Gate Park you happen upon a field full of live Bison.
In the middle of the city. Ugggghhh, O.K

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