SAN FRANCISCO - President Biden's welcome reception brought all the leaders for the APEC Summit to San Francisco's Exploratorium on the waterfront on Wednesday night.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed greeted the delegations, and other VIPs, including city, state, and local politicians, community leaders, CEO's and celebrities such as singer Gwen Stefani who was a featured performer.
"A state, like the city of San Francisco, that prides itself on being on the leading and cutting edge of new ideas," said Governor Gavin Newsom.
"Together, through APEC we can grow our economies, unlock industries of the future and ensure that all people prosper," said Vice-President Kamala Harris.
A welcome video included Bay Area sports stars, Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Steph Curry, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Brandy Chastain.
"Welcome to San Francisco APEC," they said on the video.
Kerr then appeared in person on stage to introduce President Biden, who gave brief remarks noting that APEC leaders face big challenges with artificial intelligence concerns and climate change.
"Connection, cooperation, collective action, and common purpose. That's why we're all here. I'm looking forward to seeing all the progress we're going to make," said Biden.
"Ceasefire now, Ceasefire now," protestors chanted outside the entrance gate on the Embarcadero.
As rain poured down, police brought in reinforcements, maintaining a line outside high security barriers. Earlier, several protesters were arrested.
Protesters criticized President Biden for not doing more to stop civilian deaths in the Israel-Hamas war. Overall, the protest was peaceful and dispersed without major clashes with police.
Some who attended the APEC welcome reception said they are glad San Francisco is getting a chance to show the world the diversity and beauty of the city by the Bay.
"This is one of our greatest moments as a city and just as an entire community coming together," said Anna Marie Presutti, Vice-President of Hotel Nikko and Board Chair of SF Travel.
"I'm also glad that she also included non-profits, community leaders and people who work in the community," said Anni Chung, President and CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly, a community group that helps seniors.
"To be a part of this, it says a lot to young leaders that we can be in certain spaces as well," said Hoang Dao of Hayward who took video and photos to remember the evening of meeting top leaders from around the world.
The reception ended with a big fireworks display over the bay, wrapping up after 8:30 p.m.
The APEC leaders are scheduled to hold a series of meetings Thursday and Friday, with additional receptions scheduled at various locations including the Palace of the Legion of Honor.