Image- Pumpkin festival
Huge crowds descend on the coast for every Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. Review File Photo

After news of a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday, organizers of the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival are expected to meet next week to discuss potential modifications to the event’s existing public safety plan. 

“At times like this, we recognize the general public is understandably shaken and saddened. We all are,” said Cameron Palmer, chairman of the Half Moon Bay Beautification Committee, in a prepared statement. 

On Sunday afternoon, a lone gunman killed three people and injured 12 more with an AK-47, according to multiple news reports. The suspect was identified by Gilroy Police Department as a 19-year-old Gilroy man, who allegedly was armed with an AK-47 rifle that was purchased legally in Nevada, according to news reports.

The Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual three-day event held in July at Christmas Hill Park. 

It is similar in some ways to Half Moon Bay’s annual October festival. Both draw fans from across the region for an outdoor event that centers around an agricultural theme. 

“We have an even bigger event than the garlic festival,” said Half Moon Bay Mayor Harvey Rarback, who said he has been thinking about the impact of the Gilroy shooting on the upcoming event here. 

“I am of mixed mind of what can be done. We do not have a single point of entry where people are coming in and out of, so metal detectors I do not think would be of popular opinion,” Rarback said. 

Tim Beeman, whose Miramar Events helps to stage the Pumpkin Festival, said the festival committee was already planning to have a meeting next week to discuss public safety at the event. The group has already met twice this year to discuss safety, he said. 

“This just happened, so it is too soon to say or speculate,” Beeman said. 

He explained the festival committee meets regularly with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, the city of Half Moon Bay and CalFire to create a “robust public safety plan” for the event.

Beeman’s company puts on several festivals and events throughout the Bay Area.

“We are very fortunate in the history of the festival to have never had an occurrence or incident such as this,” Beeman said. “Law enforcement has always done an outstanding job.” 

Beeman stated that at last year’s Pumpkin Festival, 96 paid staff from the Sheriff’s Office or other mutual aid offices were working over a two-day period. 

“Just because of the nature of the world we live in, it is always something on your mind,” Beeman said. “It’s unfortunate that something that is supposed to bring people together for a happy moment has to have this outcome. It is just heartbreaking and our thoughts are with those in Gilroy.”  

Half Moon Bay’s Pumpkin Festival is scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20. 

“The festival is not too far away, so I am sure people’s memory fades, but I am sure the events at Gilroy will have some effect,” Rarback said

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