Another Year, Another 4/20 Smokefest

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    On what was possibly the hottest day of the year thus far, an ever-growing crowd gathered at the Porter Meadow for one of UC Santa Cruz’s most infamous traditions — 4/20. 

    A quick look at 4/20 shows a huge gathering of people celebrating marijuana. Yet there are many different ways this yearly occurrence affects the city of Santa Cruz. People from all over the country came, and there was not an empty parking spot to be found near campus, with the license plates ranging from New Mexico to Nebraska.

    A 2004 Rolling Stone magazine article by Vanessa Grigoriadis entitled “The Most Stoned Students on the Most Stoned Day on the Most Stoned Campus on Earth,” earned Santa Cruz a reputation as the place to be on April 20.

    Estimates of the 4/20 crowd varied from several hundred to the several thousands. Vladimir Kozyrev, a second-year, said he felt the numbers had diminished since last year. Bella Ferro, a first-year who was walking back from the meadow, had a different estimate. 

    “There were 5,000 people last year, so you know there must have been more this year,” she said. “It gets bigger every year.” 

    The influx of people and their appetite-stimulating activities had a unique, but perhaps expected, affect on some close-to-campus food services.

    Kent Bailey, the assistant director for UCSC dining, was on his way to the College Eight dining hall as the clock struck 4:20. 

    “Last year, we experienced a huge upsurge at College Eight,” Bailey said. “It was overpacked and students were shoulder-to-shoulder in the dining hall.” 

    To make matters worse, this year both Cowell and Porter dining halls are closed due to construction.

    “Our principle concern is the number of people on campus. We’re trying to provide a safe environment,” Bailey said. “So we’re going to be careful in not allowing too many people into the dining hall.” 

    Despite how careful they were, the College Eight dining hall was indeed hectic all afternoon.

    Candace Hoppe, a fourth-year literature major, cashed in on the increased snack demand on 4/20 by selling munchies to hungry smokers in Porter Meadow. 

    “We’re raising money for the teen center downtown, which is having financial difficulties at the moment,” said Hoppe, while exchanging two Fruit Loops for a buck with a tie-dyed stoner. “We’ve made over $200 so far.”

    The way Hoppe sees it, the idea is to take advantage of this extremely popular event to bring money into the community.

    Just off campus, at the Cardiff Street 7-11, assistant manager Ron Rabdeau was swamped. 

    “I probably ended up with a thousand more people than on a normal day,” Rabdeau said. “I used to work at the 7-11 on Ocean and Broadway, and it gets a lot more business than this one. But today, I can guarantee you that we made six times what they make. And most of it was Swishers.” 

    Overall, Rabdeau said the clientele was cordial, with no outstanding “idiots or assholes” — just a lot of people “high as kites.”

    “At least they were all smart enough to keep hydrated. Lots of water, Gatorade and Slurpees. Oh my God, the poor Slurpee machine nearly had a breakdown.”