A couple of days ago, residents living in the Golden Gate Park neighborhood got a surprise late at night when loud music and unexplainable “green balls shooting into the air” interrupted their sleep. If you were close enough, a quick glance out of your window produced what looked like fireworks in the park, but to the community’s dismay at 12 in the morning – not everyone was too sure. For some, the sounds of U2 and Journey filling the air were a clear indication that at least someone was having a good time.

As locals scrambled to the computer and gathered on chat lines, some residents showed obvious relief when they learned that the flashes of light were indeed fireworks in the park. But, who was behind this? There were no activities slated for Golden Gate Park at this hour? The city rarely allows after-hours gatherings in the park … and certainly doesn’t give the ‘OK’ for events to take place in the middle of the week after 9pm. To boot, no one was properly notified of the upcoming festivities – hence the panic.

The culprit: Google requested a city exemption in early May to permit 1,400 members of their sales team to hold a celebration in the park on June 11th. The ‘King of Search Engines’ planned on setting up a ‘picnic-style dinner with soft drinks and alcohol’ alongside live band music. Sounded innocent at first, but sure caused a ruckus in the neighborhood.

In the end, it seems like a party other than Google benefited from this event, as approval for this get-together meant that Google posted a $1 million insurance bond in addition to $20,860.48 in fees to San Francisco. What I’d like to know is…were you affected by this event in any way and how do you feel about Google’s royal exception to the rule?

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