America's Cup: Chinese New Year Floats Must Float Away

Categories: Government
Joe Eskenazi
The bunny's sign reads, 'Welcome America's Cup.' You can't accuse this float of not being a civic booster
Jonathan Stern's official position with the Port of San Francisco is listed as "Assistant Deputy Director, Waterfront Development Projects." But you can just call him the human PowerPoint. As Stern led Mayor Ed Lee around the port at the head of a media scrum this morning, he gesticulated broadly and spoke continuously about things that didn't exist. Yet.

Regarding forthcoming development for the America's Cup, Stern told the mayor iterations of the following phrases again and again: "Our current vision" and "tear this down." Passing the Pier 23 Cafe, he noted, however, "That's gonna stay."

Leading the throng into the "nonhistoric" Pier 27 shed -- the current vision is to tear it down -- something that appeared to be a hallucination grew nearer and nearer at the end of the pier as Lee and Stern set a brisk pace. It was a menagerie of cartoon animals and what appeared to be loud reggae music. Yes, it was the floats for the Chinese New Year parade. And the float factory's tenancy in what will soon be America's Cup central is not in the current vision.

"You might have a hard time getting rid of that tenant with the current mayor," quipped Mark Buell, the chairman of the America's Cup organizing committee. Stern noted, no, they'd be parading out. Supervisor David Chiu suggested, instead, the floats be incorporated into the America's Cup boat designs. Everyone laughed.

Master floatbuilder Dave Thomas didn't laugh. But, to be fair, he was playing "No Woman No Cry" far too loud to hear the joke. While he soon won't have space to work in on Port 27, he wasn't crying about that, either.

"We're going to Pier 50. We hope," he says. When asked if he would receive any relocation cost reimbursement, he didn't cry but laugh. "No, no!"

Thomas isn't the only Port tenant who'll be making way as the waterfront is transformed for the America's Cup. But he may be the most gracious. "We were blessed to be here so long," he says.

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