BlueAngel.jpgTens of thousands of people from throughout the Bay Area and beyond descended on San Francisco Sunday to catch a glimpse of the choreographed clusters of naval jets thundering overhead.

A trio of air shows Sunday afternoon marked the middle of Fleet Week San Francisco – an annual, weeklong celebration commemorating America’s military sea servicemen and women.

The organizers of this year’s event said they planned to focus on emergency preparedness while paying homage to the 100th anniversary of the birth of naval aviation.

“Fleet Week is a San Francisco tradition and we take this opportunity to salute the men and women in uniform everywhere for their devotion and service to our country,” Mayor Edwin Lee said last week. “During this year’s 30th anniversary of Fleet Week in San Francisco we embrace our shared mission of teaching all citizens and first responders how to get better prepared for the next emergency.”

In the interest of safety and due to some approaching fog over the bay, Navy officials cut short the highly anticipated Blue Angels jet show around 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

But for the many onlookers who packed the Embarcadero Sunday, armed with cameras and binoculars, the earlier afternoon aviation displays were well worth the wait.

“I think (the planes) are really cool,” said seven-year-old Isaac Eda of San Jose, who had spent the afternoon watching the Fleet Week air shows at Pier 39 with his dad. “I like the formations.”

For others, the multi-colored aircraft catapulting over the city Sunday were unexpected.

“It was a great surprise – it was extraordinary,” said Jean-Marc Pascaud, a Frenchman visiting San Francisco on the last leg of an organized tour Sunday.

While thousands of sky-gazers lined the piers and wharves along the Embarcadero, others toured sprawling naval ships docked in the bay during Fleet Week.

U.S. Navy servicemen and women in uniform dotted the Embarcadero Sunday, with a couple of U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps booths selling Fleet Week souvenirs and offering recruitment information.

As the afternoon festivities wound down Sunday, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency police helped safely herd thousands of people leaving the Embarcadero onto buses and streetcars or toward nearby parking areas.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

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