Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Community & Society
Published on November 01, 2019
Outer Sunset neighbors join forces for family-friendly, car-free Halloween

A "cookie monster" and two cookies. | Photo: Playland at 43rd Avenue/Facebook

Mermaids, gnomes, and princesses roamed the Outer Sunset on All Hallows' Eve.

But one thing was notably absent: cars.

On Thursday night, community space Playland blocked off 43rd Avenue to cars to host a family-friendly Halloween party. Activities included a Halloween carnival, a costume contest, and safe trick-or-treating for all ages.

In advance of the event, volunteers went door-to-door to invite neighbors to join the festivities. Thanks to a grant from the city, Playland even offered complimentary Halloween candy, which neighbors could pick up to hand out to trick-or-treaters.

This is the third year that Playland has held a Halloween celebration, and the second year it's made the surrounding streets car-free for the occasion.

"The streets were packed!" said co-manager of Playland at 43rd Avenue John Funke. He estimates that over 500 kids trick-or-treated in a three-block radius. 

"No cars is always safer, especially when we have multiple streets closed down, which means less crossing streets for all those kids and families," Funke said. 

Playland's efforts have led to a citywide expansion of trick-or-treating street closures, which numbered an even dozen last night. District 4, which includes the Central Sunset, Outer Sunset, Parkside, Outer Parkside, and Pine Lake Park, even introduced a second car-free trick-or-treating space on 29th Avenue. 

"[We] are proud that District 4 has lead on this initiative," said Edward Wright, a spokesperson for the district's Supervisor, Gordon Mar. Playland received funding for the closures and candy from the district's "mini-grant" program for community activation, for which residents can apply online.

The Halloween event received rave reviews from neighbors as well. 

"Amazing job!" neighbor Shane Curnyn commented on Playland's Instagram. "Unbelievably great to have a safe, fun zone to trick-or-treat right in the neighborhood."

"I think it was a resounding success," Funke said. "So many neighbors and families came up to tell me how special this event was, but they really didn't need to, because I could see it on everyone's faces."

Here's a selection of four-star community costumes from last night's festivities.

Two gnomes and a fairy take the streets. | Photo: Gary Goff
A pair of astronauts enjoy the Playland festivities. | Photo: Playland at 43rd Avenue/Facebook
The Wittenmeier-Nguyen family went all out with "Little Mermaid" costumes. | Photo: MinhThu Nguyen Wittenmeier / Facebook

To keep up with Playland's event schedule, check out their Facebook calendar. For more information about hosting an event, neighbors can contact co-managers Frances England and John Funke at [email protected].