Fleet Week is back and better in San Francisco after pandemic absence

Fleet Week is set to come roaring back into San Francisco Monday. City officials said preparations are underway for the return of the in-person event, which organizers say is the only one in the country this year.

In just a matter of days, the Bay will be full of military ships, and the skies filled with the Blue Angels. And that means another step toward normal for the city.

"It's one of the most cherished events in San Francisco, and every year people love it," said Lewis Loeven from San Francisco Fleet Week Association. "It's a huge shot for the economy. But, it's a huge shot for fun in the city."

In years past Fleet Week has drawn as many as a million visitors with hundreds of thousands on hand for the signature air show alone.

The city's health director said San Francisco can hold large-scale events such as Fleet Week with proper safety measures in place. Organizers are asking that everyone wear a face covering, and — most importantly, be fully vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

SEE: Fleet Week schedule of events

Law enforcement said security plans have been in the works for months.

"You'll see us walking around in uniform. You'll see us in plain clothes, in the shadows to make sure people just focus on the events and activities and really enjoy the time that they have here," said San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto.

Police are urging attendees to take public transportation and if driving is a must, then park smart.

"Make sure that you keep your valuables out of sight and locked away. It's a good idea to do that before you park," said Daniel Perea from San Francisco Police Department. "You don't want to park somewhere and get out and move everything to the trunk."

For Pier 23 Cafe, the return of Fleet Week after a virtual event last year means a lot more diners on their outdoor patio,  which is good news for the bottom line.

"It's huge for us. A lot of people come down here to the waterfront to watch the Blue Angels fly around and all the ships and stuff," said McGurrin Leibert from Pier 23 Cafe. "It's great for business. We love it."

Organizers and health officials said the city's high vaccination rate and relatively low COVID transmission rate is why large events like Fleet Week and the Chinese New Year parade are getting the green light.

They're still pushing for anyone who is not yet vaccinated to do so.