Visitors Celebrate Civic Center Tree Lighting

UPDATE: For information on the 2019 Civic Center Plaza Tree Lighting, Wednesday, December 4, 4-7pm, visit this page.

Original post in 2017: On December 5th, 2017, San Francisco brought the holiday cheer during the Civic Center Tree Lighting in Civic Center Plaza.

As snow (of the manufactured variety) fell from the skies, host Honey Mahogany emceed, providing entertaining banter between performances which included vocalist and X-Factor finalist Jason Brock; a cappella glee club Scales of the City, San Francisco A Cappella, and some wildly exuberant dancing by The Tap Dancing Christmas Trees as well as members of Boxcar Theatre‘s Speakeasy.

What holiday event would be complete without visits from Christmas VIPs such as The Great Dickens Christmas Fair‘s Scrooge and Ghost of Christmas Present? Not to mention the man-of-the-hour — Santa himself — was in attendance.

Visitors cheer as the tree lights, photo courtesy of CCCBD.

With drinks for kids of every age and hundreds of toys given away courtesy of the San Francisco Police Department, smiles were in abundant supply amid a chilly evening as the City’s central gathering place welcomed the holiday season in style.

If you missed the grand event, fret not, the tree is in Civic Center Plaza through the holidays for all to enjoy. How do you know this is a true San Francisco tree? If you look closely enough, you might think it leans left.

The event was sponsored by the Civic Center Community Benefit District, San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco Public WorksSan Francisco Recreation & Parks DepartmentAnother Planet Entertainment, and Civic Center Initiative.

Civic Center Initiative Block Parties, It’s a Wrap!

San Francisco celebrated the final Civic Center Initiative 3rd Thursday Block Party event last week, and while the inaugural season has come to a close, it’s just the beginning of what #WeHaveInCommons.

Throughout the inaugural series, music promotion stalwarts from Another Planet Entertainment, People in Plazas, and Noise Pop were the curated an astounding array of exceptional talent. Visitors danced to Cuban all stars, shook to hip rockers, and grooved to beat bumping DJs. Off-the-Grid punched the flavor ticket, bringing food and drink. Visitors also perused museum exhibits, shopped at pop-up book stores, and got crafty with DIY workshops all in the City’s central public spaces. While you were there, you may even have noticed the trees getting wild.

In the final two events of the series, visitors rented free roller skates and with varying degrees of skill went round and round (and sometimes down) at the Church of 8 wheels roller disco. We’d be hard pressed to create a better people-watching spectacle.

3rd Thursdays grew out the greater Civic Center Initiative, a strategic effort led by the City of San Francisco and community partners to transform daily experiences in our central public spaces and create a unified, inclusive civic space. 3rd Thursdays event was a collaboration between the City of San Francisco, Another Planet Entertainment, Off the Grid, Noise Pop, and the Civic Center Community Benefit District.

We can’t wait to see City Hall turn yellow, red, and blue again for the next 3rd Thursdays in 2018. The inaugural series may be over, but is’ just a salvo, the very beginning of exploring, entertaining and engaging with what #WeHaveInCommons.

3rd Thursdays [VIDEO]

3rd Thursdays is a series of monthly events featuring music, food, drinks, and other free programming in the City’s central public spaces. Check out this video spot shot by SF Gov TV during the four events in 2017.

Major Makeover in the Making, Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds Rising to Completion

The new state-of-the-art play areas in Civic Center Plaza will be completed in early 2018. Here’s a bit of background on how they came to be.

In 2015, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced a $10 million donation from the Helen Diller Family Foundation through The Trust for Public Land (TPL) for a major renovation of the two Civic Center Plaza Playgrounds. The gift, at no cost ot the city, will transform two aging structures into vibrant, state-of-the-art play spaces.

The Civic Center Plaza’s central location make the soon to be Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds an invaluable resource to nearby visitors from neighborhoods where open space is limited including Tenderloin, Civic Center, Hayes Valley and South of Market. The playgrounds will also serve children attending nearby daycare centers, schools, and nearby cultural institutions as part of their education.

“For nearly 20 years, under Helen Diller’s leadership, the Helen Diller Family Foundation has dedicated their efforts in nurturing our communities through education, the arts and medical research and innovation,” said Mayor Lee in a statement. “We are grateful to have known Helen Diller, as a park lover, and a champion for children and families in San Francisco, and her legacy lives on through many of our City’s parks and playgrounds which will now include the Civic Center Plaza Playgrounds.”

“The Helen Diller Family Foundation’s unique gift to the city will bring a distinguished formal civic space to life through creative placemaking,” said The Trust for Public Land Director of City Park Development Adrian Benepe. “This project elevates the importance of art and children in the urban landscape and creates a national model for public engagement in central civic spaces.”

In February of 2017, Mayor Lee along with students from nearby shcools and other city officials broke ground on the new Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds.

Indeed, if the succesful rebirth of Boeddeker Park (thanks in part to a gift from the Helen Diller Foundation) is any indication, the new playgrounds will serve as a beacon of joy, well being, laughter, and play for years to come.

Keep an eye on the playgrounds rising above the fences as construction draws to a close. Pretty soon, Helen Diller Civic Center Playgrounds will be complete. It won’t be long before we can proudly celebrate them as a major part of what #wehaveincommons.

About Helen Diller Family Foundation
The Helen Diller Family Foundation supports programs and institutions in both the Bay Area and throughout the world, with a focus on education, science, and the arts. In 2003 the Foundation gave the University of California San Francisco the largest one-time gift from an individual donor in the hospital’s history. The $35 million gift funded the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Care Center. The Foundation has given other major grants and gifts to UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, the De Young Museum, and has supported the renovation of Julius Kahn Playground and Mission Dolores Park, both located in San Francisco.

About The Trust for Public Land
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. More than 7 million people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.  For more information on The Trust for Public Land, go to: www.tpl.org.

What Color is City Hall Tonight?

Did you know City Hall’s exterior regularly changes illumination to reflect civic pride celebrations, national or world events, and other worthy or momentous occasions?

Want to know know what color City Hall will be tonight? Visit the City Hall Lights page here.

Read below for more information about the light installation, its history, and related news articles, courtesy of SF GOV:

About City Hall’s exterior lighting

Every evening at sunset, over 220 state-of-the-art LED lighting fixtures illuminate City Hall’s exterior. Normally, a soft white glow shows off the play of light and shadow on the full façade and dome. Frequently, special plaza façade lighting schemes honor or celebrate events, seasons, and holidays.
Until 2016, the lights were standard incandescent bulbs. Changing their colors was expensive and time-consuming; two to three building staff members, plus a crew of four staff from a lighting contractor, spent hours crawling in and out of office windows and onto the rooftop to install colored theatrical gels on each of the 220 fixtures, even in bad weather. For removal of the gels, the whole process happened in reverse.
Power use is now much lower, and with just an occasional cleaning, maintaining the fixtures is much easier: LED bulbs last as long as 20 years.

News about City Hall lighting

Please note, the City Hall lighting schedule is subject to change.