April 20, sometimes called Weed Day, is an annual celebration of marijuana. Here’s where it comes from
Jeffrey Lee Puckett/Courier Journal
Unless April 20 is your birthday, it’s probably just another day on the calendar to you.
However, that date — or at least the numbers associated with it, 420 — have taken on a particular significance to many people. The date has become something of a holiday for marijuana enthusiasts.
And, like most holidays, there are several places around town that are willing to help you celebrate.
Why is 420 Weed Day?
There are many theories:
- The numbers represent police codes for marijuana use.
- A Bob Dylan song contains coded lyrics.
- That’s the number of chemical compounds in marijuana.
- It’s reggae legend Bob Marley’s birth (or death) date.
None of those is true.
Thank the Waldos
The theory that seems to have the most validity (it even has its own website) is also one of the most simple. It was made up by teenagers. Five students at San Rafael High School in Marin County, California, began using the numbers as code in the early 1970s.
They called themselves the Waldos and they met for a smoke at 4:20 p.m. near a statue of Louis Pasteur on campus. It seemed like a good time to toke as 4:20 fell between the end of school, after-school activities and when their parents got home for the evening.
They’d say “420 Louie” when they wanted to let a fellow Waldo know they were up for a smoke, according to the group’s website.
Over time, the reference to the creator of pasteurization was dropped from the phrase (sorry, Louie) and it was reduced to the numbers. As the Waldos ventured out into the world, the saying eventually caught on with people outside the original group.
Meet the Waldos, the guys who claim to have invented the term “420,” a common code for marijuana.
420 events around Phoenix
Celebrate 420, if you’re so inclined, with food and festivities. Several metro Phoenix businesses are offering specials or throwing parties. Not surprisingly, restaurants are going all in with deals on munchies.
Hopdoddy Burger Bar: This burger chain is rolling out its Smoke Show menu, a month-long tribute to musicians who are known to be 420 friendly. It features the Red Eyed Stranger Burger (a pork patty on a hemp- and oat-seeded bun), the Gin & Juice cocktail and the Young, Wild and Fries Shake (featuring a cookie-dusted French fry garnish). On April 20, the restaurant will fire up its special 4/20 Burger. That’s a pizza bagel-top bun, Cool Ranch-dusted french fries, Flaming Hot Cheetos ketchup and deep-fried Funyuns mayo on a taco patty.
Details: 2033 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, and 11055 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. www.hopdoddy.com.
Deadbeats 420: This EDM festival is topped by Zeds Dead with Troyboi, Liquid Stranger, 1788-L and Blanke. The festival’s name refers in part to the Canadian headliners’ label and in part to the date of the festival, which is widely considered an occasion for celebrating the smoking of weed.
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Details: 6 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Rawhide, 5700 W. North Loop Road, Gila River Reservation. $45-$85. 480-502-5600, relentlessbeats.com.
Fried: French Fry & Music Festival: French fries are tired of playing second fiddle. At this festival, everyone’s favorite side dish steps into center stage. More than 20 local restaurants and vendors will offer their take on classic fries with samples for $2-$3 each. Among them are Frites Street, French Me Fry Truck, The Dressing Room, Merkin Pizza Wagon, Ginger Monkey Tavern, Krazy Taters, Left Coast Burrito and Cousins Maine Lobster. When you’re done eating your way through the lineup, kick back with a craft beer and enjoy live music.
Details: 2-10 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. Third St., Phoenix. $15. 480-442-9176, friedfestival.com.
At the premiere of ‘The Beach Bum,’ Matthew McConaughey says he accidentally got so high on ‘Snoop weed’ that he ‘saw the sun rise’ (March 29).
Up in Smoke 4/20 Green Gala: Timeless Refinery is hosting this celebration of art, music, food and medicine for Arizona medical marijuana patients. It will feature the unveiling of an interactive art installation by local artist Lalo Cota. Entertainment will include live music and DJs. Headliner is rapper Futuristic. The event is free, but you must RSVP and have a valid medical marijuana card to enter.
Details: 6-11 p.m. Saturday, April 20. The Venue on Washington, 1520 E. Washington St., Phoenix. Free. RSVP at www.eventbrite.com/o/timeless-vapes-19652631133.
BLAZED4GAYZ: Boycott Bar is showcasing a 420 Drag celebration hosted by Afabulous Drag Showcase. The show features an all AFAB (assigned female at birth) cast with comedy, live music and illusions.
Details: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20. Boycott Bar, 4301 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. Free. 602-825-6240, www.facebook.com/events/boycott-bar/420-blazed4gayz/2272969166284489.
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