Community leaders should save Second Saturday, not squander it

I live in the heart of Midtown and have been attending the monthly Second Saturday event for more than a decade. In 2005, Second Saturday really started percolating: bands in the streets, thousands of attendees, and, of course, free wine and snacks. Shops and boutiques claimed it was their best sales day of the month. Community leaders called it an organic event; “Nobody is in charge of Second Saturday” was a popular statement.

By 2010, however, people were complaining: drinking in public and tailgating, underage kids running amok after curfew, vandalism and noise in the neighborhoods.

Then, that September, errant gang gunfire killed 24-year-old Victor Hugo Perez Zavala just after midnight during the event.

This is when community leaders did the wrong thing.

Instead of taking charge and producing events that give people more to do than drink in the alleyways, they brought in more cops, moved Second Saturday's official hours to earlier in the day, and ended regular street closures.

Sacramento squandered Second Saturday.

What a shame: Second Saturday is the ideal platform to market and showcase Midtown and downtown to the greater region. There should be major events and festivals, bands on stages, beers, families, innovation and unexpectedness.

The reason Second Saturday struggled initially was because Sacramento leaders just let people stroll around.

The good news is, this can change. Leaders can take a cue from events like Saturday's This Midtown block party on 20th Street, where indie band Yacht will perform. We need more big-time events like this one.

Let's celebrate Second Saturday. Not regulate.