Saturday, March 07, 2009

Bay to Breakers Breaks all the Rules

Reporting from San Francisco -- It's too soon to tell if the party people have won.

But after weeks of civic soul searching from City Hall to cyberspace, it's beginning to look as if Baghdad by the Bay will survive the latest threat to its reputation as the capital of free expression.

For a while, though, it was touch and go here in the city that brought you the Summer of Love, Burning Man and the Folsom Street Fair (the self-proclaimed "granddaddy of all leather events").

The organizers of Bay to Breakers -- the raciest footrace in America -- set off the hand-wringing when they announced last month that nudity, alcohol and floats would be banned from the infamous annual competition, which has transformed over the last 97 years into a Pilsener-fueled party on Pumas.

In any other city in America, it probably wouldn't be necessary to tell participants in a 12-kilometer race that they are not allowed to strip to their running shoes and push a keg in a shopping cart while sipping a tall cold one.

But San Franciscans have spent the last 160 years taking their fun very seriously, and people here in "The City That Knows How" know a threat to their image when they see one.

Even the fans watching the event get in on the fun.

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