Burst of tradition: Fleet Week brings back San Francisco’s pre-pandemic vibe

Thousands flock to The City to enjoy the outdoors

By Harika Maddala

Bay City News

San Francisco welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors, as well as its own residents, to Fleet Week for air shows, a parade of ships, ship tours and more.

With fans arriving at Oracle Park to watch the Giants play the Dodgers on one end, and crowds joining the four-hour lines to tour the military ships at Fleet Week on the other end, The Embarcadero was looking what one would call “lit” over the weekend.

Demetri Ware, a Vallejo resident, was touring the USS Shoup on Pier 35 and taking pictures of the air show on Saturday.

“I wanna see the Blue Angels. I’m just excited to see them, be outside and be part of the people,” Ware said. “I feel comfortable, you know, with the coronavirus and everything going on. I feel real safe, and I appreciate that it’s an outdoors event. Everybody is out here to have a good time.”

Started in 1981 by then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein as a celebration of America’s military sea services, Fleet Week is the nation’s largest celebration of the United States Armed Forces, and especially the Navy. It took place Oct. 3 through Monday.

The event brings in visitors from all across the Bay Area to the city’s waterfront and particularly Pier 39 — a location that offers one of the best views of the air shows for no cost.

Rehma Shahid, an El Cerrito resident, returned to Fleet Week with her family on Saturday after four years.

“I’m excited to watch the planes today, and it is mainly because of the weather,” Shahid said.

Anyone remotely familiar with San Francisco knows the fog is at the core of The City’s identity. There have been instances in the past where weather conditions affected Fleet Week performances. On the last day of Fleet Week 2019, the Blue Angels had to wait almost 25 minutes before the fog cleared up.

“It’s a clear sky, and you can really see the planes going by,” Shahid said. “I’m having a great time.”

The other major attractions of Fleet Week are the military ship tours at Piers 30/32 and Pier 35. The U.S. Navy opened three ships for tours from Wednesday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The USS Shoup and USS John S. McCain were docked at Pier 35, and the USS Rushmore was docked at Piers 30/32. The USS Michael Monsoor was also docked at Pier 35 but was not open for touring.

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