2018 Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
The Nob Hill Association’s 47th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony was more special this year than in recent years, made so by the appearance of Mayor London Breed and a story she told of what the San Francisco Fire Department toy drive meant to her as a child.
As in prior tree lighting events, the Association reminded its members to bring a gift for deposit in one of the fire department’s toy barrels. Growing up poor in the Western Addition, Mayor Breed recalled the many Christmases she went to the fire department’s Station 5 for the only gifts she would receive.
“It’s been a long time since a mayor joined us for our tree lighting,” said Stan Landfair, president of the Nob Hill Association. “She originally had a scheduling conflict but managed around it to join us, calling Nob Hill an ‘amazing community.’ We constantly remind our members and the public that our annual event is as much a toy drive as it is a tree lighting. Mayor Breed tugged on all our heartstrings in relating her personal joy at receiving donated toys as a young child.”
State Assemblyman David Chiu and Sunny Angulo, chief of staff to Supervisor Aaron Peskin, also spoke and delighted the crowd, many of whom they called out by name. The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Clemens Young, dean of Grace Cathedral, started the festivities with an invocation and asked the gathering to support those displaced by the Camp Fire, some of whom Grace Cathedral is helping to house.
And speaking of California’s fires, this year’s firefighter Protector of the Year honoree was Captain Pablo Siguenza, who not only saw action in the Camp Fire but has also battled the Rim, Tubbs, and Coffey Park fires in years past. Deputy Chief of Operations Mark Gonzalez presented Captain Siguenza with his award.
The Nob Hill Association’s police Protector of the Year was Sgt. Joseph Obrachta, who was introduced to the audience by the Association’s Joe Omran and presented his award by Deputy Chief Ann Mannix. A San Francisco Police Department silver medal winner, Sergeant Obrachta has worked in the Tenderloin and Central stations for 25 years. Prior to that, he served three years with the Oakland Police Department.
Judith Droz Keyes, NHA’s treasurer, listed the gifts each was to receive, including a check for $1,000 each. Firefighter Siguenza donated his to his department’s toy drive; Sergeant Obrachta donated his to the Police Athletic League. Both Protectors of the Year also received a night’s stay at either the Huntington Hotel or Stanford Court, dinner for two at Osso and Venticello, and tickets to a future concert at the Masonic Auditorium courtesy of the Masonic and Live Nation.
This year’s ceremony set a high bar for all future ones. In closing, Landfair stated: “Once again, the NHA thanks its neighbors the Fairmont, Stanford Court, Mark Hopkins, and Huntington hotels, the Stanford Court for providing refreshments and The French-American Quartet for providing our Holiday music. Special thanks go to Association members Greg Galanos, our Park Chair, and Hudson Bell. Without them, we would not have this park or this ceremony.”
Click here to see photos of the event taken by the San Francisco Examiner.