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Italian-American Parade in North Beach

October 4, 2012

Italian American paradeThis is the nation’s oldest Italian-American celebration and parade. It’s also San Francisco’s oldest civic event — it started in 1868 — and, of course, what a neighborhood this has become: Located between Chinatown and the Barbary Coast, it's home to artists and writers, and is the Greenwich Village of the West Coast. This is, after all, the land of Kerouac and Ginsberg. And for years the Washbag, otherwise known as the Washington Square Bar and Grill, was the palace for local intrigue. Now that’s all gone. If you go to this event you might stop by City Lights Books, a landmark in itself and arguably the last great bookstore in the city. Meanwhile, the parade features bands, floats, and all the city’s finest in their finery. It's a local celeb fest.

The parade begins at 12:30 p.m. at Jefferson and Stockton Streets in Fisherman's Wharf, then through North Beach up Columbus Avenue, and ends in Washington Square in front of Sts. Peter and Paul Church. There will be a Ferrari sportscar display in the park and various activities for children and families. And, of course, restaurants galore. The only problem is parking. Best bets are on the fringes, south in the financial district or east on the streets off Broadway, around Sansome and Vallejo, closer to the bay.

Mark MacNamara, a writer and journalist based in Asheville, North Carolina, has written for such publications as NautilusSalonThe Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. From time to time, his pieces in San Francisco Classical Voice also appear in  Noteworthy examples include a piece about Philip Glass’s dream to build a cultural center on the Pacific Coast; a profile of sound composer Pamela Z and an essay on the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. MacNamara recently won several awards in the 2018 Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press Club.  His website is