San Francisco's Union Square Gets Into the Holiday Spirit

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There are signs of the holiday season starting to pop up in San Francisco's Union Square after many retailers have spent months boarded up. 

Christina Kattuah went to the famed shopping district to pick up a few holiday gifts and support local businesses Thursday.

“I feel it is important,” she said.

It’s early in the season, but the Christmas tree is up and so are some decorations. But she also noticed some store windows still boarded up, and so did others.

“It’s a little sad, not only are they boarded up but there are not the people that there used to be,” said Doug Rove of Marin County. 

“Certainly there were many boards up during early COVID and some additional boards up for the election,” said Karin Flood. “Now we’re on the other side so some of the boards are starting to come down.”

Officials say they’re trying their best to be festie despite the recent challenges.

Flood is executive director of the Union Square Business Improvement District, she says about 10 to 15 businesses have taken down the boards in the last few days and are working on making the holiday festive amid all the challenges of 2020.

“The stores are open whether it's in-store shopping or appointment only or curbside pickup,” said Flood. “The stores are open, we're looking forward to having people down. The Macy's tree is up.”

The plywood initially went up after looters hit early in the pandemic, then again after the election. Former mayor Willie Brown says the time has come to open again.

“It looked so dreary, it looked so inviting,” said Brown.

He has repeatedly called for the board to come down and was pleased to see it starting to happen in some areas.

“You can do Christmas decorations and get rid of the plywood,” he said.

As the city rolls back indoor dining, that’s yet another challenge but restaurants are winterizing outdoor seating.  

A light show will be added at night in Union Square to project snowflakes on buildings.  The pandemic has changed a lot, but people are trying to remain hopeful.

“My hope is people spend as much as they were going to spend and they look at other ways to celebrate Christmas,” said Rove.

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