Sometimes, it pays to remember how good it is to live in the Bay Area.
One such opportunity for gratitude came this last weekend, in which perfect weather combined with a slate of major events to make it a weekend to remember.
Two events that are fast becoming an intergral part of the early autumn — bridging that gap between Labor Day and Halloween — turned up, and in both cases, the smiles on the faces of spectators told the tale. First, Fleet Week festivities got into high gear with the air shows on Saturday and Sunday, highlighted by the Blue Angels’ stunning aerobatics. Crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands came out to watch, filling the area around Crissy Field and the northern waterfront. And that’s not even counting the thousands who likely found a spot a little farther away that still allowed a view of the spectacle.
At the same time, huge crowds filled Golden Gate Park to watch some of the best bluegrass, country and roots acts in the nation perform at the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, financier Warren Hellman’s annual gift of music and good vibes to The City. This is an event that seems to get bigger and better every year — so much so that the only complaints one hears are that it is hard to move from one stage to another due to the big crowds.
Those events may have led the way when it came to sheer attendance, but they only scratched the surface of weekend happenings — Chinatown’s Double-10 Parade, the Castro Street Fair and the Italian Heritage Parade in North Beach also attracted thousands.
The attractions didn’t stop at The City limits either — for those not anxious to brave the congestion in The City, San Mateo County offered plenty of options, the San Carlos Art and Wine Festival and San Bruno Autumn Fest being just two of them.
It made for one of those weekends when, whether you were driving or bicycling or taking a bus or walking around, it seemed as though there was something big and fun and welcoming happening around every corner. And even though some of the events were large-scale, they made San Francisco seem friendly and small-town — witness the families with small children pointing with wonder at the Blue Angels or grooving to a 70-year-old fiddler at Golden Gate Park. And witness the smiles and relaxed atmosphere there and everywhere else.
By the way, there was an NFL game in town on Sunday, but that didn’t go nearly as well, as the 49ers fell to the Baltimore Ravens.
But the weather was October perfect, and the crowd was enthusiastic and well-behaved, like all the crowds this weekend. Summer’s over and the sometimes-stressful holiday season is just around the corner. But for one weekend at least, it was time to relax and remember why we live here.