Record crowds expected for SF's event-filled weekend

October 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The busiest weekend of the year is in store for San Francisco. One million people are expected to visit the city for events including Fleet Week, America's Cup, and Giants playoff games.

In Golden Gate Park Friday, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival got underway. North Bay-based bluegrass band "Poor Man's Whiskey" played in the morning for a group of middle school students who were bused in to the park. The free event lasts all weekend. And that's just the western side of the city, though. Up north it's busy as well. In fact the activities there have already started.

There were no ships or jets, but a softball tournament that took place Friday morning in San Francisco is one of the many activities that are a part of Fleet Week. It's a relatively new addition that's part of the effort to get the community more involved in Fleet Week. Law enforcement and military teams play until a champion is crowned. This event doesn't draw a big crowd, but the others will.

With the Blue Angels performing Saturday and Sunday afternoon, and America's Cup sailboats racing in the Bay, some are predicting record-sized crowds in San Francisco, "It's really busy, I'm actually amazed," resident Sophia Barr said. "I'm not really used to all this craziness." Barr says she's going to try to see the air show, the America's Cup, and squeeze in one other big event, "Oh of course the Giants game! My mom and I have season tickets, so we're going for sure. That's the first thing I thought of."

City officials are strongly urging people to take public transportation. They've added extra buses and trains. The Embarcadero is going to be the most crowded. Cars are not recommended. Resident Alex Avetoom says he has a strategy -- he's going to stay away from people and just watch it all from the rooftop, "Well, we're not moving. We're not even going to try to move. Some friends are going to try to leave here and go to the Cal game, but that sounds like too big of a trek. Just gonna plant it, plant it on the roof and watch the Blue Angels."

With the 49ers and the Giants playing, moving around is going to be a must for most people. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass alone attracts hundreds of thousands of people. There will be almost 90 acts this weekend for the free event.

Bay Area Bonanza

Fleet Week, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and the Giants postseason games are just the tip of the iceberg.

This weekend, some of the world's best yacht sailors will pack San Francisco Bay Saturday and Sunday for the America's Cup World Series Races. The best viewing is off the Marina Green.

It's also the homecoming weekend for both UC Berkeley and Stanford. The Cardinal takes on Arizona State at The Farm Saturday at noon. And Cal plays UCLA 7 p.m. Saturday at the new Memorial Stadium.

And you know there will be a huge crowd for Sunday's 49ers game at Candlestick. The Niners will play the Buffalo Bills at 1:25 p.m.

There are also a bunch of festivals this weekend. San Francisco's Castro Street Fair is Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the city's annual Italian Heritage Parade is Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in North Beach. San Carlos has its famous art and wine fair Saturday and Sunday. And Mill Valley's film festival is in full swing -- it continues through October 14th. Actor, musician Billy Bob Thornton will be there Sunday.

For pop music fans, there's a Justin Bieber concert Saturday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland. And Madonna performs at San Jose's HP Pavilion Saturday and Sunday.

Bottom line, there will be a lot of people pretty much anywhere you go this weekend.

Written and produced by Cornell Barnard

Transportation tips for busy SF weekend

With all the events happening, there is no doubt two wheels will be better than four. If you choose to drive this weekend, expect bumper-to-bumper traffic, closed lanes, and major frustration. That's why city officials are urging people to take public transportation

Alan Gochberg, a driver with Luxor Cabs, has more than 20 years of experience weaving his way through traffic. He says the streets to use are Pine, Bush, Oak, and Fell. That's especially helpful for those of you going to attend the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park. Gochberg says, "Turk Street is a very good street, westbound Golden Gate coming back downtown as well is a very good street.

Still, even with these tips, driving is not recommended. Public transportation is a better option. The Embarcadero is an area you want to avoid because of all the Fleet Week events. One of two lanes of traffic beginning at Washington Street northbound will be closed to cars to allow access to bicycles, pedicabs, and emergency vehicles.

"It's going to be pretty crucial to have some extra bicycle maneuvering room," pedicab driver Matt Lambert said.

The Marina Green will be hard to get to because of the America's Cup World Series races.

The San Francisco Giants play this weekend, and so do the 49ers. Consequently there will be more CHP officers on the highways, "The Bay Bridge, northbound 101 around Candlestick, the extension anywhere on 280 toward the stadium," CHP Officer Mike Ferguson said.

The good news is the city has granted more cab medallions. And ABC7 News was there when they hand delivered 41 of them to Luxor Cabs, "It gives us more cabs to pick up our regular customer," said Tom Stanghellini with Luxor Cabs. "It's going to provide employment for more drivers. Every little bit helps when it gets this busy."

With a million people expected to come into the city Friday night and this weekend, the advice from many is -- do not drive, take public transit. Starting Friday night BART will be running longer trains and special events trains to help those heading to the ballpark or the concert in Golden Gate Park. And there will be more ferries on the Bay than usual this weekend.

If you don't already have it, now might be a good time to download the Waze traffic app -- exclusive to ABC7 News. It's available on iTunes and Google play and you can use it to guide you around the congestion this weekend.

And no matter which event you go to, we want to see how you're spending the week. Email your photos and video to uReport@kgo-tv.com or upload to abc7news.com/uReport

Click here for a list of this weekend's events and traffic information to help you get around.


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