San Francisco contest blends pumpkins and politics, with cameos from Mayor Breed and D.A. Jenkins

Dozens of children gouged eyes into plump orange pumpkins at a Noe Valley playground on Saturday, as their parents, elected officials, and a cast of drag queens looked on.

The drag queens, of course, judged which were the most stylish pumpkins of the day.

State Sen. Scott Wiener has put on the only-in-San Francisco event for much of the last decade, except for a pandemic disruption in 2020.

“It’s an uplifting event” that lets him catch up with long-time constituents and meet new ones, Wiener said, after polishing off a slice of pizza. Some residents come to talk shop while others are there for the festivities, he said. This year, Mayor London Breed, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and District Attorney Brooke Jenkins stopped by.

D’Arcy Drollinger (left), Katya Smirnoff-Skyy (middle), and Bebe Sweetbriar (right) judge pumpkins at Sen. Scott Wiener’s pumpkin carving contest in San Francisco on Saturday.

D’Arcy Drollinger (left), Katya Smirnoff-Skyy (middle), and Bebe Sweetbriar (right) judge pumpkins at Sen. Scott Wiener’s pumpkin carving contest in San Francisco on Saturday.

Justin Katigbak, Freelance / Speical to The Chronicle

The festive mood was blunted slightly by a group of protesters speaking at the edge of the park and holding signs with slogans like “Stop tranzing gay kids” as a few police officers looked on.

Wiener called the demonstration “despicable” but added they had the right to say what they wanted. Wiener has authored legislation to to make California a safe place for youths who are coming from elsewhere seeking gender-related health care, as states like Florida and Texas have passed laws to marginalize those who identify as trans.

BeBe Sweetbriar, one of the drag queen judges, wasn’t letting the protest blunt her good time. Dressed in a black witch’s outfit with a pointed hat that occasionally sailed away in the wind, she said she loved seeing the kids racing around the park between bouts of pumpkin-skewering.

A young boy ran up to Sweetbriar and growled, baring a set of day-glo green plastic fangs. “Aaaa!” Sweetbriar yelped with delight.

Some of Wiener’s long-time constituents, like Paul Silberschatz, came to show support for Wiener and his policies.

Tess Roshan Esner digs out pumpkin seeds at the pumpkin carving contest in Noe Valley on Saturday.

Tess Roshan Esner digs out pumpkin seeds at the pumpkin carving contest in Noe Valley on Saturday.

Justin Katigbak, Freelance / Speical to The Chronicle

“I really resonate with his housing policy,” Silberscahtz said, as his daughters, Emily and Katie, discussed their Halloween costume plans nearby. Wiener has introduced legislation to streamline housing construction over the years, with the goal of easing the worsening shortages in California and the Bay Area.

Silberschatz said he’s been coming to the event long enough that his kids have appeared in Wiener’s campaign mailers in years past.

Emily even has a nickname for 6-foot, 7-inch Wiener: “The tall man with the pumpkin patch.”

Then what started out as a neighborhood gathering morphed somewhat into the kind of flesh-pressing political event that foreshadows the looming November election.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins showed up, at one point servin g as a roo st for two brightly-plumed pet birds, Aidan and Bebe that belonged to a woman named Mellody Gannon. The duo briefly took up residence on Jenkins’ hand, the other perched atop her head, as she laughed.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins poses with birds during a pumpkin carving contest and political meet-and-greet in San Francisco on Saturday.

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins poses with birds during a pumpkin carving contest and political meet-and-greet in San Francisco on Saturday.

Justin Katigbak, Freelance / Speical to The Chronicle

Jenkins’ presence, along with that of District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and eventually Mayor London Breed, seemed to explain the unusually heavy police presence around the park, although ensuring the integrity of the pumpkin-judging seemed paramount.

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