With a countdown and the flick of a switch...the greatest time of year has once again come San Francisco's Castro district.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With a countdown and the flick of a switch...the greatest time of year has once again come San Francisco's Castro district.
"This one's my favorite because the people of the city are here," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.
On Monday night, San Francisco leaders came out to light one of the city's most famous Christmas trees.
The event has become a neighborhood tradition that's often attended by hundreds of people.
This year, it was also an opportunity to encourage holiday shoppers to come out into the city's neighborhoods and support local businesses.
"Small businesses are the fabric of the community. That's why we have a neighborhood, is because of those small businesses," said Dave Karraker of the Castro Merchants Association.
Heading into this holiday season, city leaders have stepped up their efforts at combating crime and improving public safety.
Many of them are eager to put last year's string of high-profile robberies behind them.
"We're turning those things around and it's starting to feel a lot better. Is it perfect? No. I mean we're a major city and we still strive to be the very best we can every single day," Breed said.
But despite the festive atmosphere, there were also some somber moments. Several speakers took time to remember those affected by rising LGBTQ hate.
That included State Senator Scott Wiener.
"We have people who are openly threatening LGBTQ people. We had the Club Q massacre," he said.
Wiener says as attacks against LGBTQ people increase, events like the Castro tree lighting become even more important.
Showing the world, that the community remains undeterred and unafraid.
"It's important for us here in San Francisco to pull together and express our values of inclusion and love and just accepting people," said Wiener.
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