PHOTOS: Hundreds of Castro neighbors turn out for annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

Castro Holiday Tree all lit up

Over a hundred people, both family and friends, gathered around the unlit holiday tree at 18th and Castro Street for the Castro’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony. There were so many people that we spilled into the street as SFPD routed the 24 line around the crowd. Castro ambassador and drag queen Donna Sachet “Mistress Claus” MC’d the event which featured a band playing carols and a children’s choir leading the crowd in song. Many local politicians including District Attorney George Gascon, Treasurer José Cisneros, and Disctrict 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener were there to say a few words and encourage the crowd to keep it local and hit the stores after the ceremony. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence gave the benediction: AMen, AWomen, AEverythingElse.

Throughout the ceremony, local activist Michael Petrelis, minced no words with his bull horn calling out Supervisor Wiener’s aggressive political moves over the past few months including the ban on nudity and his support for the removal of the benches at Harvey Milk Plaza. Other activists from Occuprides’s Community Not Commodity contingent held up large, but festive signs that read, “Santa is a nudist” and “Scott Wiener the grinch who stole benches”. Most of the crowd was not pleased with Petrelis’s actions booing him in unison as many times as he took to his bullhorn. Many people in the crowd murmured that it was neither the time nor the place to make a political statement. Donna Sachet handled the interruptions with poise and grace saying that everyone will have their turn to speak and celebrate which helped keep the tone positive and upbeat for everyone.

After introducing Santa Claus and his merry (possibly toasty) band of elves and asking the children what they’d like from Santa Claus this year, Donna Sachet led the crowd in a booming countdown that ended with the lighting of the Castro’s Holiday Tree and hugs all around.

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about politics, camping, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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28 Responses

  1. Joe says:

    Michael Petrellis showed the community who is really is, a spoiled, rude, powerless, petulant, man-child. We also learned MOST people in our community like MUMC handling the Pride Flag, Scott Wieners nudity ban, and the removal of the beaches at Harvey Milk Plaza (Anyone else notice the daily homeless camp, drug use, and public shitting has stopped?). Scott got the biggest applause of the night. Petrellis and the other 3 guys with him just pissed people off and turned them away from any of his so-called activism.
    Thank you MUMC and Donna Sachet for a beautiful event. Petrellis, go back under the rock which you came from. BTW Roy, Santa came fully clothed so I guess he’s not a nudist either.

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    • Roy says:

      Thanks, I noticed

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    • Me says:

      Michael Petrelis AND Mitch Hightower are anti-gay hatemongers. Comparing Scott Wiener to murderer Dan White is reprehensible. Petrelis has quite a colorful history, which includes arrests for stalking and harassment. Google Michael Petrelis/Judy Shepard and you can see his attack against Matt Shepard’s Mom–how low is that?
      Petrelis, BTW, is Mitch Hightower’s hero.
      RE: nudity: if you forcefully show me your sex organs against my will then you’re sexually harassing me.Get these two psychos OUT OF OUR NEIGHBORHOOD!

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      • Roy says:

        While your assessments of Hightower and Petrelis are, at best, amusing, the fact that you feel sexually harassed by nude people is laughable. Do you have a real argument?

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      • stop the hate says:

        Your post is a textbook/perfect example of Attack the Messengers™ (Michael, Mitch), rather than addressing the issues.

        As for the nudity comment, I control where my eyes look. It sounds like yours don’t work the same way. Maybe an ophthalmologist at UCSF could help. That would be easier than turning the Castro into a gated community which seems to be the direction the haters would like to see things go. Or maybe the haters would feel more comfortable in Topeka.

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        • Me says:

          A few weeks ago, BAR reported on a disabled gay man who nearly lost his home in an illegal foreclosure. That man got to stay in his home because Scott Wiener intervened on his behalf, according to the story. To compare Scott, who stood up for a guy’s right to live in his own home, to the man who murdered Harvey Milk is sick, and typical of the hate that Petrelis & Hightower revel in.
          Petrelis’ attacks on Judy Shepard (Matt Shepard’s mom) and rainbow flag designer Gilbert Baker are on his blog and easy enough to find, as are news reports on his history of stalking, harassment and making threatening phone calls. Petrelis is a sick hatemonger.
          RE: nudity/sexual harassment: I of course do not feel that way at Folsom Street Fair or Baker Beach, where I’ve enjoyed the sight of skin. But if I’m taking my nephew to a movie at the Castro Theater, then I don’t want some creep flashing his dick at us–that’s sexual harassment.

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  2. bear on the peaks says:

    well said joe.

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  3. Peter says:

    The suggestion that Scott Wiener is a latter-day Dan White is beyond repellent. I would say that Mitch Hightower (who made up signs with that exact sentiment on then) and those who support him should be ashamed of themselves, but then I realized that shamelessness is their stock in trade.

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  4. Ramón says:

    Joe said: “and the removal of the beaches at Harvey Milk Plaza ” – THAT’S why everybody has been nekkid there, Joe!

    You should close all your comments with : “You f@#%ing kids; Stay off my LAWN!!”

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    • Joe says:

      Ramon,
      Get your facts right. The exhibitionist and nude guys hang out at Jane Warner Plaza. Until the beaches we’re removed, no one wanted to step thru human waste to even walk thru the Harvey Milk Plaza. The beaches were taken up by hardcore homeless, alcoholics, public shitters, and drug users/dealers. And maybe 2 or 3 gay youth who were learning how to become: homeless, alcoholic, drug users/dealers.

      I agree, it is a shame, just like the exhibitionist fucked it up for the Nude Guys, SF Homeless, Inc. fucked it up for the Gay youth.

      The beaches and the nude guys has NOTHING to do with each other.

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    • Roy says:

      hahahaha!

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  5. stop the hate says:

    So the MUMC disciples who showed up for this thing booed/hated on Michael by saying this was not a time for politics. If it were not a time for politics, then politicians should have stayed away. What were they doing there with their mouths at the microphone, if it wasn’t a time for politics?

    I like to shop locally, but I refuse to when stores are members of a hateful merchants group and a hateful business district group (both hating on the naked guys and on the homeless and street people as two examples). For example, I read that the owner of Cliff’s called the police on the naked guys because she didn’t want her granddaughter to see a naked person. I don’t shop at Cliff’s anymore. And after this flag issue (especially the Transgender flag issue), add that to the negative list about Cliff’s.

    I see someone here had to hate on the homeless again and drag out the “Shitting and Pissing” Card. One can always detect a right-wing/conservative as they are absolutely obsessed with shitting and pissing and use that Card whenever they spew their hate.

    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, the Castro is nothing like it used to be, unfortunately. And as a Queer guy, I don’t feel comfortable there anymore. I am so sick of hate.

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    • pch1013 says:

      I’m a gay male too, and the only time I feel uncomfortable in the Castro is when I’m being called a “faggot” by one of those poor, victimized street people. Is my compassion supposed to extend to those name-callers too? If so, why?

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      • stop the hate says:

        The “I’ve been called a Faggot” card is from the same depository as the conservative/right-wing’s overused “Shit and Piss” Card. I’ve repeatedly seen both cards used by desperate people as their last resort to ram their conservative/right-wing agenda through. Whenever and wherever one is called a “faggot,” (and that can happen anywhere) mature people simply ignore it and move on. And this goes for regardless of the person(s) engaged in that behavior, whether it be the wealthy bourgeois elite or the poor doing the “name-calling.”

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    • Joe says:

      Stop the hate, give me one good reason why allowing exhibitionist waving their cocks, and homeless shitting and pissing is a good idea for the community.

      Good thinking, boycott Cliff’s, a locally owned family business that has served this community for 75 years and employes over 50 people, many who are gay and all are gay friendly. BTW, Cliff’s goes, and you might as well board up the other GAY owned businesses in the Castro. Cliff’s is the anchor. Talk about hating!

      At least you too have noticed, nothing is like it used to be. And what is today, won’t be tomorrow. Keep living in the past, where we had more hate, and you can remain a professional victim forever.

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  6. Ramón says:

    Dictionary : A beach is a landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones. The particles comprising the beach are occasionally biological in origin, such as mollusc shells or coralline algae.

    I must have been too busy, minding my own business while running errands to notice the “beaches”.

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  7. stop the hate says:

    Someone wrote:

    “We also learned MOST people in our community like MUMC handling the Pride Flag, Scott Wieners nudity ban, and the removal of the beaches at Harvey Milk Plaza ”

    Well don’t let the facts get in your way. “Most people in our community” were *not* at this event. The article clearly states, “over a hundred people…” “Over a hundred people” is not “most people in our community.”

    The number of ballots cast in the 2010 District 8 supervisors’ election according to the Department of Elections was: 38,551. That’s “our community.” And “most” (the majority) of those were not at this event.

    The small, vocal minority at this event was merely MUMC and Wiener supporters. Just thought I would bring some reality to this discussion.

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    • Ramón says:

      Thanks for the clarification!

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    • Joe says:

      ever hear of poling? I’d say 200+ is a good representative of the neighborhood.

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      • Waiyde says:

        If we’d believed in absolute of polls a few months ago we’d all be watching Pres. Romney being sworn in this coming Jan. Polls are based on science, math and assumed expansion of variants that can’t be assessed from a gathering of people booing anyone. 200 people gathered to watch a tree lighting having their night disturbed is not a poll-it’s merely reactionary.

        To be clear ‘Joe’-and somehow I imagine that isn’t your real name-everyone doesn’t agree with the policies & tactics of the MUMC or Sup. Weiner, Many from the neighborhood dislike the nudity ban and reject the removal of the benches from public use. They’ve written letters, gone to protests, spoke up in public and attempted to be heard. Stating that they represent ‘all the Castro’ would be as erroneous as you claiming that the ‘majority’ of people are for them.

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  8. pch1013 says:

    Wow, so nos it’s “right-wing” to object to being called a “faggot” for holding hands with my boyfriend right in my own neighborhood?

    The pro-nudity movement continues to disappear up its own ass.

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    • stop the hate says:

      Wow, so you deliberately and intentionally missed the point—there’s a word for that and I suspect you may already know what it is—while spreading more fictional stories from the perfunctory repertoire of the anti-nudity body-image shame contingency.

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  9. pch1013 says:

    There’s nothing “fuctional” about my having been called a “faggot” on Castro Street by someone objecting to my holding hands with my boyfriend. It’s happened to me several times. And for the record, I enjoy nudity. I just think there’s a time and a place for it, and the corner of Castro and Market on a busy sunny day is not it. So go on calling me a body-hating fascist … your incendiary rhetoric says a lot more about you than about those of us who just wish everyone would practice a little common sense and common courtesy. There’s nothing fascist or bourgeois or Republican about that.

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  10. stop the hate says:

    When the benches above Harvey Milk Plaza were there, I walked by and rode by the street/homeless people frequently. Never had a problem with them. I was respectful to them, often smiled and waved at them as I walked or rode by and they smiled back. When with my partner, I was never called “faggot” or anything else by them and some/many of them are GLBTQueer youth.

    Since the removal of the benches, the area feels very unwelcoming, “cold,” sanitized and sterile. To me, the area felt much better and “warmer” with the benches.

    As for the pissing and shitting stories that the rabids have created for their agenda, the very same stories were being told during the hate-fest for sit-lie. There is a bathroom right across the street near the gas station, so why would they piss and shit where they are hanging out (that doesn’t make much sense, rabids), versus just using the bathroom across the street like others do.

    I’ve not been called anything lately in the neighborhood. A couple of years ago someone called me a “child molester,” but I just ignored it and moved on. One can be called anything anywhere. But we don’t exterminate people for that, YET. I’m well past the point of where someone calling me something pejorative has any bearing on me. It’s too bad that many people haven’t matured past that point where “name-calling” no longer effects them. Again, I’ve not had any problem with the homeless or street people in the area. The only nasty-looking looks my partner and I have gotten have been from the straights who are pouring into the area and some of them seem to be uncomfortable seeing male-male couples. Or the guy with the female has a problem and snarls when a guy looks at him. If he has a problem with that, what is he doing in the Castro in the first place?

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