The Blue Angels return to San Francisco for Fleet Week

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With their deafening roars and death defying aerobatics, the Blue Angels are the hallmark of Fleet Week for many Bay Area residents. They are returning for this year’s event after the pandemic postponed the celebration online in 2020.

The Blue Angels will roar through the sky starting Thursday as they explore the area between the Golden Gate and Alcatraz Island, where their show takes center stage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The air show will also feature a United 777 performing tricks, the Navy’s parachute team, the US Air Force’s F-16 Viper demo team, and a host of other aircraft. The opening hours of the air show are on October 8th from 10am to 4pm and on October 9th and 10th from 11am to 4pm.

The Blue Angels may be the most flashy and loudest part of Fleet Week, but the event, which officially starts on Sunday and runs through October 10, is more than the Blue Angels.

It begins – a little quietly – on Sunday evening when four Navy ships, whose identities are not yet known, arrive in San Francisco and bring about 1,000 sailors into the city.

The events start on Monday with a different type of noise. A series of 26 neighborhood concerts presented during the week by Navy and Marine Corps bands in locations ranging from the Transbay Terminal to Chinatown, the Excelsior District, Duboce Park and the Italian Heritage Festival in North Beach.

A concert by the First Marine Division Band – the concert “Honor Our Fallen” – will take place on Wednesday at 6 pm in the Autumn Theater. The concert is public and free, but space is limited and tickets are required. They can be obtained online from the Fleet Week website, fleetweeksf.org.

Another highlight of the Fleet Week are the public tours of naval ships that are docked at Piers 30/32 and Pier 35. They take place from Wednesday to October 10th from 10am to 6pm and on October 11th from 9am to 12pm.

The Parade of Ships, which precedes the air show, features a procession of ships from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge, led by San Francisco Fire Department fireboats, spraying streams of water into the sky to celebrate the return of Fleet Week to the bay Area.

Marina Green will host the Humanitarian Assistance Village, an exhibit showing how the military has prepared to help the Bay Area with emergencies, including earthquakes. Instead of showing military weapons as in the past, the village shows field hospitals and underwater search and rescue equipment. The village is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.

San Francisco Fleet Week, held practically last year, is the only such event held in person this year. Similar events in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and Baltimore are only held online.

Lewis Loeven, executive director of San Francisco Fleet Week, said the event planners, who usually work on the event year-round, only decided to hold this year’s celebrations in late June because they put a lot of planning into just over three months and worry about COVID trends could force them to cancel.

He credited the San Franciscans for making the event possible by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and following health care instructions.

“Hopefully this will have a good economic impact on the city near the end of the year,” he said. “Hopefully everyone is vaccinated, wearing masks and following the guidelines.”

Michael Cabanatuan is a contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ctuan



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