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San Francisco gets its weird on at street festival

About 20,000 people came to dance and get weird at the How Weird Street Faire in San Francisco on Sunday.
About 20,000 people came to dance and get weird at the How Weird Street Faire in San Francisco on Sunday.
- by Rem O'Donnelley

If you saw more people than usual dressed strangely in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon, you weren't seeing things. The eclectic city was weirder than usual as revelers came to party at the How Weird Street Faire.

The street party was held on Howard Street in the city's SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood and featured 12 stages featuring electronic dance music DJ's pumping out music that got the crowds dancing. An estimated 20,000 people attended the event that lived up to its name with the weird and wonderful costumes that partiers came in. There was a couple wearing Storm Troopers masks, there were people dressed as robots, spacemen, fairies and clowns. Yes, clowns.

Fred Arrollo and his daughter Karina drove 90 miles from his home near Modesto to attend the event for the ninth time. They were both done up as colorful clowns. While Karina was a happy clown, Fred's take on a clown was on the dark side.

He resembled a scary steampunk clown with his makeup, sharp piranha-like teeth and a variety of tubes, plastic and metal pieces that he salvaged and converted to wear as glasses and other items around his head.

Arrollo shared why he comes out here year after year. “It's a little bit of everything, it's the music, it's the people, it's the outfits, it's just coming out here and being weird, being yourself,” he said.

Brad Olsen, the founder and producer of the How Weird Street Faire. He created it 15 years ago after the parties outgrew a warehouse they were held in. “The parties got very, very popular and we had to starting turning a lot of people away who wanted to come.

“We realized we could become a non-profit and then start this street fair. It was pretty much just a block party, two stages on Howard between 11th and 12th. That was in April of 2000 and it's grown by about five to 10 percent each year to our current size,“ Olsen said.

Glow traveled from Oakland with her friend JR from Menlo Park for the dance party. This is their fifth time attending the How Weird Street Faire. “It's a great cause and why not party in the street,” she said.

When asked what the cause is she said, “Fun, fun is a good cause.” Her friend JR said he likes the, “music and people getting creative on what they wear or not wearing.”

Some revelers would have been hot and sweaty, not just from dancing but wearing furry outfits on a sunny day. Some people only wore swimsuits or shorts. Atypical of some San Francisco events, no nudists were spotted.

Olsen says the event is a long day for him but he enjoys it. “It's always fun to see the wide array of outfits on attendees each year. it's fun , it's great, it puts a smile on faces of 20,000 people and it's always fun to see a lot of people have a good time.

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