Fleet Week Cancellation Impacts San Francisco Economy

The cancellation of numerous San Francisco Fleet Week events has disappointed many businesses on Fisherman's Wharf on what would have been one of their busiest weeks of the year.

On Oct. 4 city officials announced the cancellation of all humanitarian assistance and disaster response drills between federal and city agencies due to the federal government shutdown. In April the Blue Angels squadron's flight demonstration and ship parade was canceled due to federal sequestration cuts.

Alioto's Restaurant General Manager Matthew Violante said Fleet Week is "special to San Francisco" and the cancellation is "very disappointing."

PHOTOS: Blue Angels Fly Over San Francisco

Many people have called ahead to reserve spots on the restaurant's second floor dining room to view the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels air show and naval ship parade only to find out that the events have been canceled, Violante said.

Fleet Week "is geared toward being on the wharf" but its cancellation will mean more people will stay home, Violante said.

Felix Lantsman, owner of video and camera store Digital Center, said he was shocked when he first heard Fleet Week was canceled.

"Fisherman's Wharf has a lot of life during Fleet Week" but "something's missing" on the waterfront without the events, he said.

Lantsman, who has owned his business on the corner of Jefferson and Leavenworth streets for over 15 years, predicts he will lose fifty percent of sales usually gained during Fleet Week.

Marina Casey, one of the owners at the Gold Dust Lounge, said Fleet Week brought so much energy to the city.

She has friends in the Bay Area who would make their "annual pilgrimage" to San Francisco to watch the show with their families.

Fleet Week is enjoyable for people from all walks of life as opposed to sporting events or concerts that only have limited audiences, Casey said.

In previous years the waterfront was packed with people watching the Blue Angels practices, she said.

Fleet Week was a good transition for businesses before entering the slow months of tourism and its cancellation will create a "trickle down effect for the whole city," she said.

What would have been the busiest week of the year for businesses will now only be an ordinary day, Casey said.

"(Fleet Week) is the last big push that helps our businesses get through the winter and now we don't have that," Fisherman's Wharf Community Benefit District Executive Director Troy Campbell said.

To help offset the losses from Fleet Week a "Wharf Fest" will be held on Jefferson and Beach streets on Oct. 26 and 27, Campbell said.

"I hope we can offset some of the losses but we don't think we can match what we can bring from Fleet Week because the Blue Angels is a huge draw," Campbell said.

The two-day festival will include a chowder competition and kitchen demonstration by chefs on the wharf. More information is available on www.wharffest.com.

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