SF's Most Underrated Holiday: Dumb on Down to the St. Stupid's Day Parade

The St. Stupid's Day Parade in SF, 2008.  (Scott Beale / Laughing Squid)

San Francisco is still a terrifically irreverent city, despite the near-deafening chorus of those who would have you believe otherwise, and -- if you know where to look -- there are still pockets of weirdo magic tucked all over the map.

The Financial District is not usually one of those places. Here is a little story about the FiDi: When I worked in the FiDi, I would hurry home from the office each evening like I was escaping the jaws of death.

There is one day per year, however, when the continuous gray of the office buildings is interrupted by a bang of color and noise, in what I'm going to argue here is the most San Franciscan holiday of them all. Forget Bay to Breakers. All hail St. Stupid's Day.

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The annual St. Stupid's Day Parade, held each year on April 1st, is a march through the most typically serious, businesslike part of our fair city -- and it's a celebration whose entire objective is to take the wind out of all things serious and businesslike.

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Now in its 38th year,  the parade was founded by retired SF Mime Troupe mainstay Ed Holmes, aka Bishop Joey of the First Church of the Last Laugh. The church's website, if you're in need of a laugh, offers  a helpful FAQ section with tidbits like "...the one thing that unites the species across all differences of color, creed, nationality, zip code and beverage preference is stupidity." Can't argue with that.

As for the parade itself: Since it falls on a weekday, it will start around noon at the foot of Market Street (Justin Herman Plaza), then continue throughout the Financial District with stops at the Stock Exchange (where participants are encouraged to bring and trade one's solo socks, "the sock exchange," GET IT?) -- the "Banker's Heart" sculpture (where paraders are encouraged to throw pennies), the "Tomb of Stupid" (the office building at 101 California), the Federal Reserve Headquarters (bring losing lottery tickets to toss), and more.

No tickets, no VIP bullsh*t, no nothin. Just good old-fashioned debauchery. Costumes, instruments and accessories -- especially those that mock "the business of religion or the religion of business" -- are highly encouraged.

And if you're one of the many hapless souls in the city who's a freak at heart but has to suffer in a businessperson costume all day? Your attendance is extra encouraged -- nay, required. Please leave your cufflinks and company card at the door.

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