It’s a little hard to describe exactly what went down at the Peacock Lounge last night, but we’re gonna give it a shot.
The fundraiser was organized by the Lower Haight Merchants and Neighbors Association to benefit the tenants of 493 Haight Street who lost their homes in last Tuesday’s fire.
And raise funds it sure did!
More than 300 Lower Haight residents and fans streamed into the Peacock over the course of the night, leaving their $10 donations at the door and entering a space full of music, food, and free beer.
The sweet sounds of the Top Cat Jazz Trio, who, incidentally, were amazing, filled the air for the better part of 3 hours.
The anticipated line-up of food was there — from Memphis Minnie’s, Wing Wings, Chilli Cha Cha, Rotee, and Rosamunde — but somehow over the course of the night, other vendors appeared. Street Sweets showed up with a bag full of cookies. At one point, a stack of Volare’s pizzas arrived. No idea how that happened.
Carrie, Alex, and Neal from Three Twins were on hand to scoop out cups of Hot Cookie and Burnt Caramel — definitely appropriate flavors, given the night’s cause.
Around 8pm, LoHaMNA president Thea Selby took the microphone to say a few words about the fire and to thank everyone for attending. She then gave a few displaced tenants a chance to speak.
This is when the night kind of turned into something for which our cynical little hearts were not prepared!
One by one, the tenants of 493 Haight stepped to the mic and explained what they’ve been going through over the past week. One man said he was blown away by the kindness of the community, how he’s been offered things like housing by complete strangers. One woman, who had only moved to the city in May, said that despite everything, the reaction of the neighborhood has made her even more convinced that moving to San Francisco was the right call.
Several thanked Pierre Pegeron, the owner of Lo-Cost Meats who rushed into the building and started evacuating people, as the building’s smoke detectors apparently failed and many residents were unaware of the fire until Pierre banged on their doors. Pierre, who attended last night’s event, stepped to the mic with his usual humility and declared he did what anyone else would have done. “You’re all heroes. You’re all heroes,” he said.
And on and on it went.
Mr. Chan, the manager of the now-shuttered Walgreens, was in attendance, and Thea offered him a chance to speak. He opted not to take the mic, but did thank the crowd for their support, and then confidently declared, “we will be back!” — a statement that was met with huge applause.
Later in the night, a raffle drawing was held for an astonishing number of prizes that had been donated by local businesses and artists. Yours truly had the honor (?) of pulling the red ticket stubs out of a vintage Schlitz cooler, which happened to be the evening’s final prize. In all, more than 30 items were handed out to lucky winners, amidst sporadic chanting of “Lo-wer Haight!” and “Scotch! Scotch! Scotch!” – one of the night’s most coveted prizes.
Finally, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi took to the mic, offering the City’s full support to the displaced tenants and reminding everyone of the long process ahead. He also promised not to let management companies or building owners push the tenants around, a line that received much applause — notably from many of the tenants themselves.
The evening wound down by the scheduled closing time of 10pm, and then clean-up began. So did the tallying. The numbers are still being finalized, with last-minute checks arriving, but in all it looks like the event raised over $7,000 for the displaced tenants. Not a bad haul for a night in the Lower Haight.
The fundraising efforts don’t end now, though.
Soon there will be an online auction of even more prizes that have poured in over the past week (stay tuned), and you can always make a donation online:
For now, thanks to the Peacock Lounge for hosting, LoHaMNA for organizing, the food vendors for feeding, Three Twins for scooping, Top Cat for jazzing, Mad Dog for beering, sponsors for sponsoring, neighbors for attending, and tenants for persevering.
It’s hard to say whether this was the finest night we’ve ever spent in the Lower Haight, but it was definitely top ten.