SAN FRANCISCO – Joy and neighborhood pride flowed in Boeddeker Park this evening as city leaders joined residents and community groups at the 2nd Annual Tenderloin People’s Holiday Tree Lighting.
State Senator Scott Wiener, Mayor London N. Breed, and District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney led the countdown to the tree lighting at the event, which featured a visit by Santa and performances by collaborative arts ensemble Skywatchers; carolers from Glide Memorial Church known as the Glidettes; Tenderloin Filipino Community Association dancers; and the Tenderloin Chinese Rights Association Choir. Ornaments crafted by neighborhood seniors and children adorned the tree, representing the many faiths of the Tenderloin.
“It was a privilege to join the Tenderloin People’s Holiday Tree Lighting,” said Senator Wiener. “This is one of my favorite events of the year, where the Tenderloin community comes together for the holidays at Boeddeker Park. It’s great to see everyone celebrating together in the neighborhood.”
“For the past two years, this tree lighting celebration has been a symbol of the Tenderloin’s strength, resilience, and cultural vibrancy,” said Mayor Breed. “Boeddeker Park is a cornerstone of the Tenderloin and provides a safe space for people to get outside, get to know their neighbors, and host great community-building events like tonight’s tree lighting. I want to thank all the organizations and residents who made this event possible, and who advocate for their community all year long.”
The tradition started as an item in the Tenderloin People’s Congress Vision 2020 plan, which detailed Tenderloin residents’ priorities for neighborhood improvements. Today, the Tenderloin People’s Congress leads the joint community event with partners the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, Z Zoul Café, the Tenderloin Community Benefit District, Hospitality House, the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Boys and Girls Club, and the YMCA.
“The Tenderloin is without a doubt the heart of San Francisco, and the Tenderloin Holiday Tree Ceremony event speaks to the incredible passion, strength, and diversity of all the people who make this neighborhood so special,” said Supervisor Haney. “I am incredibly proud to be a resident of the Tenderloin, and grateful to all the community partners who have worked so hard to make this event a success; making sure that everyone in the Tenderloin has a place to celebrate the holidays.”
The ceremony is held at the nearly 1-acre Boeddeker Park, a community hub and green oasis in the city’s densest neighborhood. The park, named after a beloved neighborhood pastor, reopened in 2014 after a $9.3 renovation that included a 4,300 square foot clubhouse, play areas for children and toddlers, a full sized basketball court, fitness equipment, a walking path, outdoor plaza, and performance area. The park and its clubhouse offer youth programming through the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA, as well as programs such as parenting classes, peer wellness, art therapy and senior activities.
Boedekker was named among the most well-maintained parks in San Francisco by a Controller’s Office report released this week.
“The renovation of Boeddeker Park has been nothing short of transformational,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “It is incredible to see the space flourishing and neighbors coming together to celebrate the season. Parks make communities safer, healthier, and happier.”
In the Tenderloin, where not everyone has money for a tree or space to keep one, Boeddeker Park’s tree belongs to everyone.
“This holiday tree and celebration is just an outward symbol of what folks from the Tenderloin already know. There is a really connected community of diverse, vibrant and active people living and working together in our neighborhood. People in the TL tend to know each other and look out for each other and when we come together, things like the Tenderloin People’s Holiday Tree are the result. And this tree brings such light and joy to everyone and is meant to be a gift to the entire neighborhood,” said Tenderloin resident and Co-Chair of the Tenderloin People’s Congress Curtis Bradford.