San Francisco Traditions

Members of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team fly over San Francisco in 1950. Photo courtesy of the SF Chronicle Archive.

In October of each year, San Francisco celebrates our history. It happens to be our military history and our Italian heritage.

For all of the attention we get for celebrating “counter-culture,” we have been an important port for the United States Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard for years. Hunters Point was a commercial shipyard beginning in 1870. In 1940, the Navy decided that San Francisco was a vital port on the West Coast and purchased the property renaming it Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.

Here is a sample of our annual “Fleet Week” celebration with the Navy band playing “Anchors Away,” while the Navy and Marines march up Columbus Avenue.

And what would “Fleet Week” be without the Navy’s Blue Angels? The precision flying aces have a history with San Francisco too. In 1950, they stopped by on their way to combat in Korea. Actually, the flying team was disbanded at a ceremony at Moffett Field on the Peninsula and the pilots were reassigned to a fighting squadron. Here’s the current team a couple of years ago performing their amazing acrobatics.

Pierre Salinger was a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle in 1950 and reported the story about the Blue Angels disbanding. Salinger was born in San Francisco and attended SF State before entering the US Navy in 1943. He was back in The City, working for the Chronicle, before joining John F. Kennedy as the President’s Press Secretary in 1961.

As kids we called October 12 Columbus Day, but now we call the October celebration, “Italian Heritage Weekend.”  Here is a sample of the fun, compliments of Torani, a manufacturer of flavored syrups.

Happy October!