Fleet Week flies on, thousands turn up

After efforts led by local peace groups and Supervisor Chris Daly failed to rid the Navy’s annual Fleet Week of aerobatic displays by fighter jets, hundreds of thousands of people packed onto streets, beaches, parks, bridges and rooftops around northeast San Francisco on Sunday afternoon to cheer and gasp at the pilots’ hair-raising stunts.

“Here we go,” said an excited man to his wife between bites of his ice cream, as a distant, growing rumble around 2 p.m. foreshadowed the arrival of the jets. “Here they come.”

As a cavalcade of big and small planes flew in formation and crisscrossed each others’ paths above The City and the Bay — billowing clouds of red, white and blue smoke across the otherwise clear sky — the streets below buzzed with excited families and awe-struck children.

“These are hot,” said Karry Farebrother, 12, as a pair of jets noisily drew a blue and red heart in the sky.

Karry’s father, Ed Farebrother, who was watching the show with his daughter on a blanket at Ghirardelli Square, agreed. “If they don’t like it,” he said, “they should just put some earplugs in — or get out of town.”

Daly had argued that the planes are unnecessary and dangerous, and Ed Farebrother said many in the crowd were drawn to the event by the chance of an accident — “not that they want it to happen,” he said.

Nearby, Merylin Wong asked people to donate money to a campaign that is trying to raise more than $20 million to bring retired battleship USS Iowa to San Francisco from Vallejo. Most of the Board of Supervisors say the ship is unwelcome, according to Wong, who wants the battleship to serve as a museum.

jupton@examiner.com

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