San Francisco Weekend Series: Holiday Sweets and Lights in Union Square & SOMA

Neiman Marcus Christmas Tree in San Francisco
Neiman Marcus Christmas Tree

The holiday spirit was in full swing on Saturday in San Francisco. It was a like a maze trying to avoid all the crowds at 1pm but Mestelle and I finally made it to Neiman Marcus at Union Square for the “Sanrio and Sugarfina Holiday Celebration” on the 5th floor. Upon entrance, we were greeted by an enormous Christmas tree. It was adorned with golden baubles and lights and towered up towards the elegant stained glass dome.

On the 5th floor, Hello Kitty was busy taking photos with fans. I luckily was able to snap a shot of her adorable pose. There were two displays of the Sanrio Loves Sugarfina collection candy which we checked out. Each of the featured Sanrio character had their own type of candy and came in the Sugarfina box container but with an image of the character on the front. You could buy them individually or buy the Hello Kitty Bento Box that came with a set of Hello Kitty gummies or the Design Your Own Bento Box where you could mix and match candies and had a picture of each character on the top of the box. They were giving out samples of some of the candy so we were able to try an assortment. I tried the Hello Kitty apple pie gummies, Chococat chocolate caramels, Badtz-Maru chocolate covered pops (think of pop rocks but way better), My Melody sweet pearls, and Keroppi key lime flavored jelly beans. They were all delicious but the one the stood out for both of us were the chocolate covered caramels which were nice and soft when I bit into them. Before we left, we both snapped a small square of the Chococat chocolate caramels and I also got Hello Kitty apple pie gummies. 
  Hello Kitty the cutie pie at Neiman Marcus
Hello Kitty the cutie pie at Neiman Marcus 


Sanrio Loves Sugarfina Collection at Neiman Marcus    Macarons at Neiman Marcus
 Sanrio Loves Sugarfina Collection at Neiman Marcus  
Sanrio Loves Sugarfina Collection at Neiman Marcus   Sanrio Loves Sugarfina Collection at Neiman Marcus
Union Square stores were decked out in festive decorations and the streets were filled with Santa clad pub crawlers for the annual SantaCon event. We braved the crowded streets once again to line up for some Boba Guys before we headed to our next destination. I snapped a few photos of the Union Square with the masses of holiday shoppers and Santas.

SantaCon pub crawlers at Union Square
SantaCon pub crawlers at Union Square 

Christmas Tree at Union Square
Christmas Tree at Union Square  

Parol lit up at Jessie Square in SOMA

Parol lit up at Jessie Square in SOMA

We headed a few blocks south of Union Square to St. Patrick’s Church next to Yerba Buena Gardens to check out the free activities for the 15th Annual Parol Lantern Festival And Parade organized by Bayanihan Community Center and Kularts. At St. Patrick’s Church Social Hall, they had the “Taste of Christmas” event where you could sample various Filipino foods and especially desserts, parol making at the center and cultural entertainment at the front. First, we had to fill our stomachs with more food so we sampled a bit of everything. They had puto, suman, ube halaya, puto-bumbong, etc as well having arroz caldo, champorado with tuyo and Kapampangan tamales.

Next, we grabbed a spot at the parol making table filled with various materials to decorate a parol. A volunteer showed us the steps and had us first cut out the paper star parol from a template that came in various colors. After cutting, we folded it up based on the dotted lines of the guide and then glued them together. We then continued to decorate our parols in any way that we wanted. Colored wrapping tissue, colorful patterned tape, strings, and spiral paper were provided. It was fun to make and took up a good chunk of our time there since we were busy trying to beautiful our creations. Now I can have something to hang in front of my apartment door.

The Bayanihan Community Center actually hosts Parol-Making Workshops where you can buy a kit to make a bamboo and cellophane parol. On their website, it looks like they had a few Friday night workshops in October, November and December leading up to the Parol Lantern Parade. I’ll remember to sign up for one of these workshops next year since I really enjoyed making my mini lantern. 

Bahay kubo display with a parol at the entrance of St. Patrick's Social Hall
Bahay kubo display with a parol at the entrance of St. Patrick’s Social Hall  
 Filipino Tamales  Puto Bumbong
Parol making table at St. Patrick's Church in SF
Various materials for parol making.
Parol template guide at St. Patrick's Church
Parol Template
Parols on Display at St. Patrick's Church's Social Hall
The parols that we created! 

Various Parols on Display at Jessie Square in SOMA San Francisco
Various Parols on Display
 Various Parols on Display at Jessie Square in SOMA San Francisco
Various Parols on Display at Jessie Square in SOMA San Francisco

After we made our parols, we went outside to Jessie Square to take a look at the parol gallery and wait for the parade to start. There were all sorts of colorful parols in different shapes and sizes on display. They were beautiful and really added to the festive atmosphere of the day. Free empanadas, senorita bread and hot tea were also given out for everyone to enjoy.

When the parade started, we could see the huge parols being paraded across the street from Yerba Buena Gardens to Jessie Square. Several Filipino organizations participated such as Veteran’s Equity Center, Canon Kip Senior Center and Little Manila After School Program to name a few. Each participant was announced when they reached the stage and did some sort of presentation such as singing or dancing. The various groups were also competing for a prize of $500, if I remember correctly. A panel of judges would make the decision based on how the parol designs matched the year’s theme of “Let Tradition Be Our Light”. Unfortunately, we had to leave the event before the winners were announced.

Below are a few photos of the event which also includes the parols that were in the competition. 

SOMA Pilipinas Info Desk
SOMA Pilipinas Info Desk  

Parol Lantern Festival Start at Jessie Square
Parol Lantern Festival Start at Jessie Square

 Parol at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival    Parol at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival
Parol at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival     Parol at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival
Parol at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival
Bahay Kubo at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival     Parol at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival
I would definitely attend the event again next year as I really had fun making my own parol and viewing the colorful lanterns at night. The event has been going on for 15 years and I hadn’t even known about it until last year. I missed out those other times but now I know and wish others would also come and join in and make this event bigger than what it is today. 
Parols at the San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival
-Jamie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s