Closing in on the 4th hour of the afternoon on April 20th (4/20), I grabbed my camera and note pad and headed for the beach. I was in search of the 420 celebration, hoping to catch OBceans partying for the holiday at 4:20 pm. I also hoped I would have more luck than other reporters searching for the same.
Easing my car into the lifeguard parking lot, I scanned the beach for a cannabis style floatopia or some such event. Yet, I saw only a couple here and there on the sand, enjoying the last rays of a sun about to be gobbled up by in-coming clouds. No mass gathering of youthful civil disobedients on this beach, flaunting johnny law to light up on this holiday.
I proceeded towards the OB Pier. There must be something at the foot of the Pier – there always is, I thought, or at least according to those who site young homeless around our Pier as the epitome of lawlessness. But alas, I only found a few folks sitting on the sea wall.
Actually there were some people I know filming high school surfers taking the great looking waves. After chit-chatting with them, I headed south.
Aha! I thought – there’s a knot of youngsters just south of the Pier. They must be up to no good. Upon arriving at this gathering, however, I realized they were all watching an injured young sea lion on the beach below. I joined them for a few minutes. A lifeguard drove up and told us he had called SeaWorld to come out and take care of the guy.
Glancing at my cell phone (who wears a watch these days?) I saw I still had time before the anointed hour. I asked a few stragglers heading north toward the Pier, “Where’s the 420 celebration?”
They pointed towards the cliff. One said, “Can’t miss it.”
All right, I thought. This is it. I quickened my step. I passed the sand pit, went down those ancient concrete steps, and headed out towards the cliffs.
Rounding the corner, I saw them. There they are! I walked up to the first group of ten or so, announced I was with the OB Rag and asked them if they were celebrating 420. I really didn’t need to ask, as I saw a half dozen pipes and short, suspicious looking cigarettes going. One girl was smoking from an orange.
All were friendly. Some had heard of our blog. So, I had no trouble being accepted, unlike that SDNN reporter I cited above.
At exactly twenty minutes after 4, a whoop went up. Nothing really exuberant but a shout out to the hour to announce its arrival. More pipes sprang into action. Just for the record, you should know, I did not imbibe.
Many wished me and each other “happy 420”. I moved down the cliffs to another group and asked if I could take their photo. Most of them agreed. I said if you don’t want to have your photo taken, just look down or away. Some of the kids had medicinal herb cards so they didn’t mind. They effortlessly grouped themselves for the pics, some with pipes still going.
It wasn’t just a picture-taking adventure for me. I really did want to know if these kids thought the marijuana legalization proposal would pass on November’s ballot. So I asked everyone I could. Surprisingly, they were split on the issue. A bare majority didn’t think it would pass. Some, though, were certain it would. “They need the money from taxing it,” one thoughtful guy said. I wondered if most of them were old enough to vote or would even vote.
As I moved to leave a couple people even thanked me. “Happy 420,” I let out, and they returned the salutation. In seven months, I thought, it all could be legal.