San Francisco launches First Thursdays and draws large turnout

A new monthly event known as Downtown First Thursdays in San Francisco kicked off on Thursday night. 

It was a giant block party to bring people to the downtown area and improve business. Organizers had hoped for 10,000 people and said the turnout far exceeded expectations. An estimated 20,000 people strolled through the gathering. 

Many people who attended the event said, "San Francisco is back!"

This was the first of 12 monthly block parties located held on 2nd Street from Market Street to Howard Street. Aluna, an English singer and deejay, performed on the main stage.

"I'm working nearby. I heard this loud music. I looked outside. Oh, there's such a big event here.  So I walked down," said Nancy Shen, a tech worker.  

A screen printing booth by Evolved SF, an art gallery in the Mission District, attracted many with the offer to choose a design and help create it on a free tote bag to take home. 


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"I think it's amazing," said Mariyah Torres, a college student and volunteer with Evolved SF. "I like to have fun on Thursday nights. It's really fun just to see the community,"

Spin, a nearby pingpong social club, offered free matches with its staff members. Winners received swag, a way to generate business.

Hybrid workers said spring is in the air and that this giant block party is a way to celebrate the end of their work week in the office. 

"I'm glad they're doing it on a Thursday and not Friday. We don't go to the office on Mondays and Fridays," said tech worker Erik Nichols who attended with his co-workers.

The diverse food offerings were a major attraction. One man said he enjoys Oakland's First Fridays and wanted to see what San Francisco's First Thursdays offer.

"The pandemic set us back. They're just trying to bring us out and this is a good way to start. It's all positivity. You got little ones out there, old ones. You name it," said Aaron Jones, an Oakland resident who is a San Francisco native. 
For the adults, this was definitely a San Francisco-style street party with drag queen performances. 

For those who didn't make it, First Thursdays will return on June 6.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.