Bomb Scare Relocates Predawn 1906 Earthquake Commemoration

Categories: Local News
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A gathering commemorating an earthquake no one could have seen coming at 5:11 in the morning was itself disrupted in the wee hours by a suspicious package no one could have seen coming

Every April 18 at the 5:11 you don't want to be awake for, a contingent of history-minded folk, city officials, and whatever centenarians who were babes-in-arms at the time of The Big One organizer Lee Houskeeper can find gather at Lotta's Fountain. But not this year.

A suspicious package discovered at 3 a.m. a stone's throw from the fountain -- at a time when no city will be taking such discoveries lightly -- forced an impromptu relocation to Union Square.

A crowd Houskeeper pegged at "more than last year, maybe 450" straggled up the street to Union Square a la Night of the Living Dead.

Sans public address equipment, speakers were forced to resort to 1906 technology -- that is, shouting. So, sadly, Mayor Ed Lee's rapturous speech was lost to history.

Houskeeper said the suspicious package turned out to be laundry. Police Chief Greg Suhr and Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White affixed the traditional wreath to Lotta's Fountain this year after the "all clear" order was given.

Bill Del Monte, 107, Winnie Hook, 107, Ruth Newman, 111 ( and-a-half!), are the only known quake survivors still living -- but none made the event this year.

Maybe next year.

Update, 1:45 p.m.: Police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza says a security guard noticed a "suspicious package" on the 700 block of Market Street at 2:47 a.m. The bomb squad "rendered it safe" at around 5 a.m. No explosives were found inside.

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