Crowds flock to SF for event-filled weekend

October 6, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
More than a million people are descending upon San Francisco this weekend for all the festivities; including, of course, a long standing Fleet Week tradition.

The city's Marina Green was packed with thousands of people by 11 a.m. Saturday. They were eating, drinking, and of course watching the Blue Angels. All eyes were on the sky as it filled with the familiar roar that could only mean one thing -- the Blue Angels are in town for Fleet Week. Fleet Week is a tradition that welcomes the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps., and the Coast Guard to San Francisco.

The festivities on the water began Saturday morning with the Parade of Ships. Nine American and Canadian vessels entered the Bay and docked at Pier 80. It was a sight that caused many on the Embarcadero to stop and stare. Because on this day, there was plenty to see, "Mostly came in to see the Giants, but we came in early to see Fleet Week," said Lafayette resident Deena Kurz. "We want to see the Blue Angels, there's a lot to do here today."

There was a three hour long wait to get on board the USS Makin Island, an amphibious assault ship that is the only hybrid electric ship in the country, "We're capable of bringing the Marines ashore either through our LCAC's or our helicopters," USS Makin Island Senior Chief Donnie Ryan said. "The ship also has a lot of use in a humanitarian assistance or disaster recovery mission."

Along the waterfront, the kids got to see it all, "I like being here because my grandfather, he was in the Navy too, and my dad brought me here so we can have fun and learn all the stuff about the Navy," 11-year-old Tevin Montez said.

Adults also let their imaginations run wild, enjoying the entire Fleet Week experience, "The Blue Angels and Fleet Week, there's too much to do," Lafayette resident Mark Chapman said.

Meanwhile, in another part of the city, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is now in full swing. Fans packed Golden Gate Field for the event.

Great music and weather; it's all organizers could ask for, "It's fantastic," said festival design director Arlene Owseichik. "It's such a beautiful day compared to what the weather forecast was. It's warm. It's glorious. Typically I work the installation and get everything set up, and so by the time the show actually starts, I get to have some fun."

The festival runs through Sunday. Artists such as Emmylou Harris and Dwight Yoakam are scheduled to perform.

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.

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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