The hottest event in SF: APEC gala with Pres. Biden, world leaders with performance by Gwen Stefani

Thursday, November 16, 2023
The hottest event in SF: APEC party with Biden, world leaders
Dignitaries from around the world attended the official APEC reception for President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill at San Francisco's Exploratorium.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Since the wee hours of the morning, the corner of Front Street and The Embarcadero has been abuzz with excitement as San Francisco's mayor hosts the official APEC reception for President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill at the Exploratorium.

Hundreds of California Highway Patrol officers, SFPD, Secret Service members and even a security drone are all in place for Wednesday night's APEC Leaders' Welcome Reception at the Exploratorium -- which happens to be across the street from the ABC7 News studios!

MORE: Day-by-day timeline of APEC Summit in San Francisco

A group of visitors from London didn't realize what was even happening until they noticed the commotion along the Embarcadero.

While we did talk to some, who weren't pleased about the commotion, overall, this was the sentiment:

"This is wonderful for San Francisco," beamed Debra Rodrigue who was visiting the city from Sacramento with her family.

Boatie Ward, a lifelong San Francisco resident, sees APEC as good for the city's future. "I hope all these people here will bring the city back to what it has the potential to be," she said.

VIDEO: Biden, Xi emerge from hours of talks, agree to curb illicit fentanyl, restart military dialogue

President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping emerged from their meeting agreeing to combat illegal fentanyl and re-establish military communications.

By the evening, dignitaries from around the world, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Philippine President Bongbong Marcos, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen arriving at the reception.

"It's a real honor to welcome all my fellow leaders to the United States," said President Joe Biden.

Speakers included Vice President Kamala Harris, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr.

"There was a lot of big shots you know so it's a lot of big egos, a lot of important people so I did my thing," said John Adler who is a Stanford neurosurgeon.

"I was not hobnobbing with the bigwigs for sure," said Todd David who is political director at Abundant SF.

But with entertainment like pop star Gwen Stefani, it was about having fun and enjoying the moment for many in attendance.

"Lots of people who were very excited about San Francisco and San Francisco's role in the world economy, I really enjoyed myself," said David.

Enjoyable - yes, but also very important. We spoke with former Senator John Kerry who is the first U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate. He says coming together now is more important than ever.

"You have the Middle East in flames, you have Ukraine, you have the challenge of the climate crisis and we all need to pull together there is no way for any one country to solve any one of those problems let alone all of them," said Kerry.

So many here, elite in their field, trying to work together to better solve problems for others.

"I'm just trying to save patient lives each and every day and in the end, I hope some of what I've been able to say today filtered off in to people who make the big decisions," said Adler.

MORE: Here's where APEC protests are happening in SF with more expected

"It's always eye-opening to see a little bit of the picture from the other side and that helps," said Kon Leong who is CEO at ZL Technologies Inc.

And while fireworks were spectacular to end the night, there's a belief among many here that meetings and celebrations like this will do true good in the world going forward.

One particular part of the President's speech drew a big reaction. Specifically when he thanked California Governor Gavin Newsom for all his hard work.

"He's been one hell of a governor man, matter of fact he could have the job I'm looking for!" said Biden.

Governor Newsom has firmly and repeatedly denied a run at the White House next year. President Biden has stated he will run for re-election.

According to reports, guests invited to the gala included:

President of China Xi Jinping

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim

President of Vietnam Vo Van Thuong

Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin

President of Korea Yoon Suk Yeol

President of Chile Gabriel Boric

President of the Philippines Bongbong Marcos

President of Peru Dina Boluarte

Vice President Kamala Harris

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Members at "every level" of the Democratic Party

Kevin Xu, CEO of the medical product firm MEBO and co-chair of the APEC Host Committee

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Various community leaders and members of the community from every neighborhood in San Francisco (invited by the Mayor's Office)


Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live