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Hundred Gather In Arcata For 4/20 Celebration

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Small groups of Arcata police officers strolled the perimeters of the Redwood Park Monday, watching as plumes of marijuana smoke wafted over the heads of hundreds of people and dissipated in the breeze.

Monday was April 20 -- or 4/20, as many know it -- and as usual, an estimated 1,000 people converged at Arcata's Redwood Park to celebrate the cannabis plant.

”This is just about people celebrating marijuana and smoking pot in the park,” Arcata police Officer Tom Chapman said as smoke rose from the crowd behind him. “4/20 is just an excuse to get high.”

Although at least one person was arrested for allegedly supplying hashish at the park Monday, Chapman said the police presence was to keep the peace -- not to look for marijuana violations. Chapman said the biggest problem he anticipated was alcohol abuse.

Arcata Police Chief and interim City Manager Randy Mendosa said the event is not sanctioned by the city “whatsoever,” and that it typically creates a variety of safety problems, from fighting to sanitation issues.

”Each year, I hope the sensible people who attend these events will look around and realize it's something that would be better to not attend,” Mendosa said.

The police presence didn't bother Humboldt State University student Naomi Jasper, who spent the sunny noon hour in the park.

”I think it's pretty cute they're here watching,” she said.

Throughout the day, many people retreated into the shade of the redwoods, where they could smoke hidden from the police gaze scanning the park.

Joseph McDaniel, a New York resident who traveled to Arcata to attend the event, took a break from the crowd to stroll through the giant trees.

McDaniel said he heard about Arcata's 4/20 celebration from a group of travelers and transients he met in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York. And although the celebration was not nearly as large as he had anticipated, he said he was happy to have a chance to walk through the redwoods.

”I've had so many people come up to me and say, 'Hey, you want to smoke a nugget?'” McDaniel said. “I'm so high. I didn't come here to get stoned.”

Inside the grove, a group of five people smoked as they sat on fallen trees lining the trails.

Israel Zegiel sputtered as he exhaled a thick cloud of smoke.

”What'd you say? Sorry, I was spacing out,” he said. “I was supposed to work today, but I had to run here from Eureka. I wanted to be here for the memorab ... the mem ... what's the word? Memorabilia.”

News Hawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: Times-Standard
Author: Sean Garmire
Copyright: 2009 Times-Standard
Contact: Contact Us - Times-Standard Online
Website: High holiday: Hundreds gather in Arcata for 4/20 celebration - Times-Standard Online
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