The Heyday When B2B Was A Moving Street Party Like Mardi Gras
Beer pong tables in the middle of the street.
Shopping carts full of kegs.
Upside down beer bongs hits.
Elvis singing on a platform.
All this was an annual part of Bay To Breakers, the whacky, crazy, run/drink-while-you-walk mobile street party in San Francisco, best described (by me) as a moving Mardi Gras parade.
Alas, all good things must come to and end, and while Bay to Breakers is certainly still happening (Sunday, May 21 in 2019) it’s not the same as it was in its heyday.
For starters, there are no floats anymore. Dang! One of my highlights was finding and following along a tiki bar. Yes, a tiki bar. A group of 50 people would take turns pulling the thing while others tended bar – complete with whizzing blenders churning out margaritas – and walked along the side of it in aloha shirts. I quickly learned if you helped to pull you they would give you a drink.
And you can’t borrow shopping carts from the grocery stores anymore (back in the day, every shopping cart in “the City” would disappear the two days before B2B and then reappear by Monday morning). So no rolling kegs.
There is also a “no alcohol” policy but, of course, how can that be enforced with 85,000 people? Now, you can’t be obvious about it.
My preferred method of alcohol transportation was to take a backpack and fill it with a 12-pack of beers. I don’t like warm beer so I tried all kinds of ways to keep them cold, eventually settling on this solution: raiding the hotel ice machine and putting it in a plastic trash bag and the beers inside of that, and to keep from leaking all over me folding up a towel and placing it on the bottom of the backpack.
Works like a charm and I had cold beers from the start to the finish.
Well, our start anyway. There’s no way we could get up and start drinking at 8 a.m., so we usually joined the party at Hayes Hill at about 10. That’s when everyone seemed to be coming into party form.
My friends adopted their own alcohol method, by the way. They wanted to drink liquor so they got the largest hand-held containers they could find and filled it up with a booze and a mix. One year that booze was 151 rum and, well, one of them disappeared and we only found him at the finish line staggering out of the ocean with seaweed wrapped around his shorts. (He was apparently chasing a girl. Of course!)
All along the way, we talked, laughed and socialized with others. We were laughing the entire time. The tiki bar would stop short of the finish line and all around it people were dancing to music in and along the road in Golden Gate Park.
We did not want to fun to end, so we were always among the very last people to reach the end. I always said that Bay to Breakers was the only “race” I know of in which the objective is NOT to finish.
I’ve not been to B2B for a few years and but maybe I should go again. My local friends still go it every year and give me reports and photos so I can keep PubClub updated on it.
But man, did I ever enjoy those glory days of Bay to Breakers.