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STREET TREATS : Fair in Silver Lake Goes Smoothly

June 02, 1988|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

In spite of lingering bad memories and financial losses from a fall concert that was shut down early by police, Silver Lake's annual gay and Latino street fair went off as scheduled over the Memorial Day weekend.

Throughout the three-day Sunset Junction Street Fair, thousands of people streamed down several blocks of Sunset Boulevard near Hyperion Avenue, which were closed to automobile traffic.

The visually diverse but mellow crowd included shirtless men in suspenders, women in lingerie, youths in punk-rock and gang attire and extended families in their Sunday polo outfits.

The fair-goers bought extravagant feathers, fake personalized license plates and decorative seashells. They picked up literature from organizations such as Gay Fathers of Los Angeles, the Central City Action Committee and Parsonage L.A. They danced under a tent pavilion. They drank beer and lined up for foods from Central America to West Africa.

Some had their arms painted with tattoos such as "Born To Be Silly." Others boldly displayed real tattoos that said much gruffer things, but even their manners never got worse than silly.

Uniformed police walking the street in twos and threes Monday reported that all was OK.

"It was really a very quiet, peaceful and well-run event," Northeast Division Capt. Richard Wahler said Wednesday. Wahler said five arrests were made for auto theft, one for driving under the influence and one for marijuana possession.

As the event opened at noon Saturday, organizers worried that it could go less smoothly.

"Of course, we were paranoid," said Michael McKinley of the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance, which has put the fair on in seven of the last eight years.

McKinley said the fear followed a disastrous Labor Day concert. The Neighborhood Alliance held the concert in hopes of raising operating funds for the street fair, which had to be canceled last year because of rising costs.

However, after receiving complaints from residents near the Hollywood parking lot where the concert was staged, police arrested McKinley and a security guard and seized some of the sound equipment. The district attorney's office later declined to file charges.

Organizers estimated that they lost $40,000 because of the disruption and made it known that they intended to file a lawsuit against the city as soon as the street fair was over.

McKinley said his fear of a repeat confrontation was momentarily aroused Saturday when a squad of motorcycle police drove through the crowds. However, after a conference with police, that unit was withdrawn to the perimeter, McKinley said.

In a return gesture, McKinley said, he delivered a personal apology after a master of ceremonies made a negative comment about the police.

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