When a statewide ban on large gatherings called off most major springtime events, many seemed to land on October for their rescheduled dates. But now the fate of one of October’s largest local events is looking uncertain.
On Monday, the West Hollywood City Council met to discuss cancelling all of its city-sponsored events through December, as first recapped by WeHo Times, in order to free up about $6 million in its budget for citizens currently in need. That section of the meeting particularly focused on the 2020 edition of the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval, a street party that draws up to 500,000 people onto Santa Monica Boulevard each year, and the council agreed that holding this year’s event seemed unlikely.
Ultimately, outgoing mayor John D’Amico gave direction to the city manager to defund government-sponsored events through the end of the year and to come back to the council at a later time with an item that formally cancels them. LA Pride, which is usually held in June and costs the city about $3 million, was also briefly mentioned in the meeting, but it’s unclear how the move might affect the already-postponed Christopher Street West-produced celebration.
“I really think it's unlikely that those events are going to be safe in the fall,” said council member John Heilman “I think we're probably still going to be looking at social distancing. So I think we have no choice at this point to be at least looking at cancelling those.”
However, were conditions to change for the better in the fall, the council could still vote to fund Carnaval closer to Halloween—given the non-programmed nature of the event, the council seemed to suggest that shutting down Santa Monica Boulevard and upping police enforcement are the main budget drains on what they estimated to be a $2.4 million event (a list of city events, however, lists it closer to $1.75 million).
“I’m happy to be the guy leaving who rips the Band-Aid and says we’re not doing any of this, and makes it easier for [mayor-elect Lindsey Horvath] to be the woman who saved Halloween come September,” said D’Amico.
Even if WeHo does formally cancel the event, the council recognized that people will still come, and so added security would likely be a cost regardless. “The spirit of Halloween is going to happen whether we approve it or disapprove it,” said council member John Duran. “It doesn’t matter, people are going to get dressed up. They’re going to want to go out on Halloween night as they have for 50 years.” And so Duran floated the possibility of moving the event into bars and nightclubs with social distancing instead of onto Santa Monica Boulevard.
Planning for the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval normally starts in July, and spending in August; we’ll look out for more updates in the coming weeks.
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