Mar 4, 2017

June 21, 1967: Golden Gate Park, San Francisco


The Flower Children climbed a mountain, swarmed a polo field, and crowded a beach to welcome the arrival of their "summer of love."
"A solstice happening," one bearded hippie termed the turnout for the first day of a season which the non-conformist disciples of love predict will bring 100,000 hippies to San Francisco.
In the chilly predawn Wednesday, scores gathered on Twin Peaks - 900-foot mountains in the city's center - where they chanted and meditated until the sun rose.
"It was a sort of Buddhist yogi," explained bearded Bill Thomas, his arm crushing a red-haired girl in filmy gown against his suede jacket.
Wailing electric guitars and booming drums assaulted the ears of upwards of a thousand at the "happening" at Golden Gate Park's polo field.
Tribal groups clustered about small combo bands - the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Mad River, the Phoenix, Big Brother and the Holding Company.
One tribe squatted under fluttering flags with the Star of David and the Cross, keeping time with a tabla - a bongo-like drum - a tambourine and a portable reed organ.
"This is a krishna, an Indian ceremony," one explained.
"This draws energy by clearing one's state of mind."
Nearby, a youth with hair hanging over his face ardently kissed a blonde.
The gathering ran the gamut of garb - miniskirts, shawls, black leather jackets, even a male wrapped in the royal purple of a Chinese Mandarin coat. Most of the males dangled bead necklaces. And everywhere were the paper flowers.
One squatting couple shielded a flickering candle from the wind with a sack, while they sipped wine from a silver chalice. Grownups blew bubbles, while their children romped.
At the beach Wednesday night the moonlight ceremony focused on a 63-year-old witch.
"She's freaking out a few people," a hippie told a bystander.
"Freak out?"
"Well," replied the hippie, fumbling for words, "that means blow out a few minds."
That's how summer came to Twin Peaks.

The picture caption of a smiling, face-painted blonde:
Judy Smith, who calls herself a "Summer Flower Child," enjoyed the first day of summer in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Wednesday. Large crowds of hippies gathered in the park to observe the longest day of the year. A cook-in was scheduled later in the day.

(by Harold Streeter, AP report, 22 June 1967) 

This ran in newspapers across the country, with varying headlines - for instance the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Avalanche-Journal in Lubbock, TX, the Indiana Gazette in Indiana, PA, the Portsmouth Herald in Portsmouth, NH, etc.

Thanks to Dave Davis.

See also:

For some footage of the day, see the film "The Way It Was," particularly the last ten minutes.


  1. I was investigating the 6/21/67 Summer Solstice happening in Golden Gate Park, and thought I'd post this AP article I came across as context, though it doesn't say anything about the Dead.
    I don't have local San Francisco articles on the event, which would have more detail.

    Judging from the film, more bands played than are mentioned in the article.

    This is a curious but distanced, almost anthropological "adult" view of the goings-on of these strangely dressed "hippies" and "tribal groups" and "disciples of love" that have sprung up in San Francisco.
    The rock music is described only as "wailing electric guitars and booming drums assaulting the ears," while the crowd plays weird Indian music of their own.
    It was exactly this kind of news, of course, that brought thousands of kids to San Francisco.

  2. The San Francisco Examiner ran a rather brief and undescriptive report of the day's events:

    "After days of fog that clung to Twin Peaks around the clock, summer came at last with the sunrise yesterday.
    It was a signal for a day-long vigil in Golden Gate Park, where the beard and sandal set trekked through the Panhandle from Haight-Ashbury and literally camped out on the Golden Gate Park greensward.
    The Polo Field at the park was transformed into a multi-ring circus as various hippie groups gathered around their favorite combo of wailing electric guitars, thumping bongos, and crashing cymbals.
    Girls with skirts up to here - and a few wearing togas down to their ankles - carried baskets of flowers which they distributed as "tokens of love" to anyone that would accept them.
    Some of the family types carried their small children with them. Many walked, some rode in every manner of vehicle from scooters to mini-buses, and even a few open convertibles."

    The reporter was more interested in the scene on the beach that evening, with a few firecrackers at sunset and a gathering crowd of "hippies who were intent on celebrating the coming of the summer solstice at moonrise shortly after 9 o'clock...
    "The moon rose majestically over the dark green outline of the western edge of Golden Gate Park, and more than 1000 hippies snuggling on the cool sand at Ocean Beach went into silent ecstasy.
    The roar of the surf seemed to get louder as waves pounded higher up the beach last night.
    Some of the hippies, shivering against the cool ocean breezes, were drenched by an occasional wave that outraced their soiled feet...
    As the wind got a bit stronger, as the moon rose higher for all to see, the hippies settled down into the sand in pairs and in communal groups - even as they do in the communal dwellings they occupy in the Haight-Ashbury."
    (from "Hippie Sun Greeters Stay Around for Moon," the SF Examiner 6/22/68)

    I wish they'd lavished such detail on the music in the park!