Scaled-back Fleet Week features fireworks and disaster drills instead of ship parade and Blue Angels 

click to enlarge Since the Blue Angels canceled due to budget cuts, Fleet Week organizers will instead showcase preparedness drills. - CINDY CHEW/2008 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Cindy Chew/2008 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • Since the Blue Angels canceled due to budget cuts, Fleet Week organizers will instead showcase preparedness drills.

Fleet Week is still happening in San Francisco this week, but it will be a much quieter affair and there will be no air show or ship parade — both of which were canceled because of federal budget cuts.

Without the popular Blue Angels squadron and Navy Parade of Ships, Fleet Week officials had instead focused on disaster preparedness drills involving the military and local first responders. But even that element of the celebration has now fallen victim to the ongoing shutdown of the federal government.

To make up for the lack of activity on the waterfront, Pier 39 is hosting fireworks shows at 8:30 p.m. every Saturday this month, the first of which took place this weekend.

Organizers were initially planning to have the fireworks on a single Saturday as part of the pier’s 35th anniversary celebration, but Pier 39 spokeswoman Sue Muzzin said they were expanded to every Saturday after Fleet Week was scaled back.

Muzzin said the fireworks shows are “our way of thanking the people of the Bay Area for their support.”

Nevertheless, the reduced Fleet Week activity has San Francisco’s tourism industry worried.

“There’s no question that we’re concerned about” crowds not showing up, said Joe D’Alessandro, president of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Fleet Week brought a lot of people down into the waterfront, into restaurants and shops.”

The preparedness drills were to start Monday with a response to the simulated aftermath of an earthquake. A Marine Corps platoon was to set up at San Francisco General Hospital, with the California National Guard creating decontamination units at other hospitals in The City.

But on Friday, the San Francisco Office of Emergency Management announced that the exercises are being postponed due to the government shutdown.

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