- Fleet Week Wows Crowds Trek to waterfront an annual tradition for many Rina Palta and Ian Sherr, InsideBayArea.com 10/07/2007 At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, TomMessage 1 of 1 , Oct 9, 2007View Source
Fleet Week Wows Crowds
Trekto waterfront an annual tradition for many
Rina Palta and Ian Sherr, InsideBayArea.com 10/07/2007
At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Tom Davenport was propped up in a director's chair on the Marina Greens waterfront waiting for Fleet Week to begin.
The son of a World War II veteran and a Vietnam veteran himself, Davenport has been attending the week of naval parades, air shows and vessel tours for the past 20 years. This year, his daughter, an Iraq veteran, was also there with her son.
"It's a family tradition and a Bay Area tradition," said Davenport. "I used to bring the kids, and now I bring my grandson. It's a gift to be able to pass on the history."
As the morning warmed up, an estimated million people crowded onto rooftops, in the streets and at the two official celebrations at Fisherman's Wharf and the Marina Green to glimpse the naval air fleet, including the famed Blue Angels.
Among those out was U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who started Fleet Week in 1981 when she was mayor. "The Bay Area, for some, has a reputation for being anti-military," said Feinstein as she watched a naval Patriot soar over the Bay. "I don't believe it, and one way to show everyone that was through Fleet Week."
That first year, the 5,000 participating soldiers were told not to wear their uniforms around town for fear of bad treatment. "But they were so well greeted, with people buying them food and beers, they went back and put their uniforms on," Feinstein said.
Army Staff Sgt. Estrada, a Bay Area native and Iraq war veteran, was wearing his uniform Saturday as he fired a cannon to greet the arriving Navy ships seven in all. "It's great to come out in public and walk around in our uniforms," he said. "There are different opinions on the military, and we like to come show our appreciation for the public."
Jason Dowd, a police officer on vacation from Massachusetts, agreed. "It's a huge morale boost for the troops to see people thanking them," he said. "And it's awesome to see the ships."
This year, 1,000 Navy personnel participated.
This was the first Fleet Week for 11-year-old Grant Halpin, whose mother, Michelle, had been wanting to bring him for quite a while. I wanted to see the Blue Angels," Halpin said. "I wanted my boy to see them, too."
Grant has been interested in flying airplanes since he saw the movie "Top Gun" four years ago. "It's really cool to see it live," Grant said, smiling from ear to ear as the Angels roared overhead. "It was totally worth the wait."
The Blue Angels are well-known for their aerial acrobatics with red, white and blue streamers tracing their route as onlookers clap and cheer.
At the Marina, Rebecca Mance of Danville waited for her chance to ride in a Blue Angel set up on the ground and rigged so that passengers could imagine what it's like to ride in one at mind-boggling speed.
"It's just a simulator," she said. "I don't think I could handle the real thing."
Nearby, the crowd tried to impress Marines on a pull-up bar, kids played car-racing video games, and a Navy rock band, The Destroyers, belted out top 40 hits next to military recruiting tents.
At the Wharf, Larry Kimball from Lodi was one of the volunteers who greeted a ship by giving gifts to the captain and commanding officers to hand out to the crew. "This is my second year, and I love it," he said, standing on the dock as Sea Lions bellowed below. "My wife isn't too happy with me, because she can't be here due to medical problems. But she wants to come next year."
Kimball was also leading the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, which allows young students to go through a miniaturized version of Navy SEAL training. "We try to teach them discipline and self-confidence," he said. "I have a hard time keeping up with these youngsters, but it's worth it."
Bill Clayton, a retired motor pool sergeant, has been to Fleet Weeks in other cities, but he said he likes San Francisco's a lot more. "They aren't half as nice as this one," he said. "The Blue Angels are here."
Fleet Week flies on, thousands turn up
Fleet Weeks annual display of Navy fighter jets drew thousands to San Francisco Sunday
John Upton, The San Francisco Examiner 10-08-07
After efforts led by local peace groups and Supervisor Chris Daly failed to rid the Navys annual Fleet Week of aerobatic displays by fighter jets, hundreds of thousands of people packed onto streets, beaches, parks, bridges and rooftops around northeast San Francisco on Sunday afternoon to cheer and gasp at the pilots hair-raising stunts.
Here we go, said an excited man to his wife between bites of his ice cream, as a distant, growing rumble around 2 p.m. foreshadowed the arrival of the jets. Here they come.
As a cavalcade of big and small planes flew in formation and crisscrossed each others paths above The City and the Bay billowing clouds of red, white and blue smoke across the otherwise clear sky the streets below buzzed with excited families and awe-struck children.
These are hot, said Karry Farebrother, 12, as a pair of jets noisily drew a blue and red heart in the sky. Karrys father, Ed Farebrother, who was watching the show with his daughter on a blanket at Ghirardelli Square, agreed. If they dont like it, he said, they should just put some earplugs in or get out of town.
Daly had argued that the planes are unnecessary and dangerous, and Ed Farebrother said many in the crowd were drawn to the event by the chance of an accident not that they want it to happen, he said.
Nearby, Merylin Wong asked people to donate money to a campaign that is trying to raise more than $20 million to bring retired battleship USS Iowa to San Francisco from Vallejo. Most of the Board of Supervisors say the ship is unwelcome, according to Wong, who wants the battleship to serve as a museum.
Thousands Enjoy Tempered Fleet Week
Lessened Military Presence Due To Iraq, City Ideals
NBC 11 News October 8, 2007 SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. --
As Fleet Week passes through the Bay, drawing thousands of attendees, the trend seems to be a lessened military presence than in years past.
Many perceive the lessened military presence to be congruent to the perception that San Francisco is a place with an anti-military philosophy. Less military crafts -- four total, and two of them were Canadian -- sailed through the parade procession under the Golden Gate Bridge. More than 10 ships were present last year.
Said another attendee: "I just thought they were all busy, being useful and doing Navy kind of things."
Fleet Week organizers said that many of the U.S. ships right now were deployed in the Middle East. Other Fleet Week sources said that despite the million attendees and Blue Angel pageantry, Fleet Week is generally not regarded as a successful recruiting device, hence the lessened military presence.
Chief James Whitney, zone supervisor for Bay Area Navy recruits, said that the military processions will continue in the Bay, as the people are very supportive. He added that he doesn't believe recruitment figures dictate Naval participation in the annual event. "That's absolutely got nothing to do with it from our understanding," Whitney said.
Bay Area native Russell Mondy, a self-proclaimed "anti-war liberal," said that he never misses the Fleet Week festivities and wants it to continue.