I have a friend in Oakland who treats April 20th like it’s a holiday–like it’s a literal freakin holiday. She will call off from work, get the grill fired up and make a day of it.
While I haven’t seen that kind of dedication elsewhere myself I have heard about it, so I know there’s an abundance of stone cold stoners out there who also prepare for 4/20 like it’s their quinceanera.
Since its inception there’s been a lot of debate thrown about as to who first coined the term “420”, but the overriding narrative is this: In the early 1970’s a group of rag-tag stoners who were students at San Raphel High School in California became known as the “Waldos” for their hangout spot – a wall outside of the school grounds.
As the story goes, one day they just coined the term “420“ because every day at 4:20 pm the Waldos met to smoke pot, thereby referring to their late afternoon toke as “420”.
Now I never truly believed the whole students-with-the-tacky-nickname-randomly-choosing-4:20 story, and I still don’t. My guess is that it was an inside joke to a couple of potheads a long time ago that inexplicably caught on.
But who really cares? It’s a day to get epically high and not feel guilty about it in the morning. Below I’ve listed FOUR 420 events in and around San Francisco that will be sure to keep you that way just as long as you can, you know, MAKE it to them:
1. 420 Celebration on Hippie Hill
The 420 celebration in Golden Gate Park is one of the Bay Area’s most prominent smoke outs. There are no permits issued; it’s not really legal, but usually, the city tends to turn a blind eye to it.
What started as a barely functional event to stick it to man and get high in public has morphed into a free fest replete with vendors of all sorts and thousands upon thousands of folks from the Bay Area (and from out of town) all burning down at the same time. It’s these sanctimonious moments of unity that kind of pull at your heart strings…except every year there are a bunch of arrests, a ton of trash left behind and sometimes a shooting or two. But hey, what’s unity without some Rick James action bitches.
Here’s how the event typically progresses:
The unofficial timeline of 420 day
An example of the typical rundown from tokeofthetown.com – things may change from year to year, especially if 4/20 falls midweek.
- 10:30 am – The “unofficial” vendors usually begin to arrive
- 1 pm – The crowds start to get a bit thick as does the haze of smoke over the crowd
- 3 pm – It’s now wall-to-wall stoners
- 4:20 pm – It’s go time: crowd is at their peak, drum beats get more frenzied, and hippie girls twirl faster as 4:20 approaches
2. WOMP Island 420 Music Festival
This is WOMP’s third year throwing a 420 music festival and they show no signs of slowing. WOMP Island 420 Music Festival features four stages of live music, complete with psychedelic visuals projected by multiple movie projectors. Past WOMP Island 420 Music Festival performers include Donald Glaude, House Nation Mafia, Soul Puncherz, Arcade, Durty, and Shark City, among many others. If you do prefer to drink over you know, being part of the cool crowd, there’s a 21+ area to get your swerve on. Presale tickets will be available soon.
Oh, and why is it called WOMP Island? Well, it being on an actual island has something to do with it.
3. San Jose Hemp Con
I used to live in San Jose for a few months, way back in the late 1990’s. All I remember is deserted sidewalks, strip-malls and Blockbuster Video outlets peppering their facades like blue acne.
Thankfully San Jo’ has gotten itself together since then.
So together, in fact, it can now pride itself on being one of the most prominent Hemp Cons in the West Coast. In the entire country, in fact.
This year’s event will feature a wide assortment of exhibits sponsored by medical marijuana dispensaries, caregivers, legal services, evaluation services, equipment, and accessories. San Jose HempCon also features live music performances and plenty of food and drink to keep you properly nourished, hydrated and/or ready to blindly hit upon weed models who will never give you the time of day. Options people!
4. Alcatraz Island
Bet you weren’t expecting this one were you? But yes, you can spend the day high as a firecracker on Alcatraz Island and know there’s probably a bunch of other folks surrounding you in a similar state.
From April 16th to the 24th ALL California National Parks (this includes Alcatraz!) are free to the public. The only thing you need to spot is the cover of the ferry-ride over there. Or you could take your chances and you know, swim there. However, I guarantee that will blow your high, among other things.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.