A portion of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was renamed Thursday after Warren Hellman, a local private equity investor who funds the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in the park.

After a unanimous vote by San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Commission Thursday, the park’s Speedway Meadow will now be known as Hellman Hollow.

Commission President Mark Buell said Hellman, the chairman of San Francisco-based Hellman and Friedman LLC, “is one of those unique human beings that just cares deeply aboutt the city” and “has shown a particular interest in Golden Gate Park.”

Hellman hosts Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free music festival that brings about 70,000 people to the park annually.

Several city officials spoke at the commission in support of the name change, including Mayor Ed Lee, who said the city is “exhibiting our love for someone who has exhibited his love for the city for so many years.”

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said Hellman “taught me what it’s meant to be a San Franciscan,” while Recreation and Park Director Phil Ginsburg said “this is a deserving tribute to a mensch of a man.”

The commission had initially proposed to change the name to Warren Hellman Meadow, but Buell said a last-minute change was made to name it Hellman Hollow “with the encouragement of family members.”

The sister and daughter of Hellman, who is hospitalized with an ongoing illness, attended the commission meeting and were presented with a painted sign marking the name change.

However, the sign had the word “Meadow” on it, so park officials hastily put a piece of paper with the word “Hollow” over it before presenting it to the family.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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