SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – Scenes from the most bizarre New Year’s Eve ever – closed beach parking lots where crowds would normally gather, quiet Union Square, connected hotels, and empty restaurants and bars.
Everywhere you looked on the last day of the year it seemed like a reminder that 2020 was a year like no other.
So it was significant that the only crowd that ABC7’s Kris Reyes found was not for a celebration, but for the ceremonial closing of a San Francisco landmark.
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The Cliff House sign came down in front of a tearful crowd and officially closed the restaurant after 157 years.
END OF AN ERA: The sign went down in San Francisco’s iconic Cliff House restaurant. The restaurant announced this month that it will be permanently closed after 157 years. From shipwrecks and a fire to the 1906 earthquake, the Cliff House saw it all. https://t.co/U4gUBeXqeX pic.twitter.com/QV6hNFPvQ1
– ABC7 News (@ abc7newsbayarea) December 31, 2020
“I’m actually glad we had the earthquake this morning. We took that off our disaster bingo card, but it’s so indescribably sad that the Cliff House is closing,” said Jonathan Alloy, who was married at the Cliff House Has.
“I think we won’t take a break until 12:01 pm,” said another spectator who was crying when the sign came down.
There will also be no fireworks, instead many will be at home. The programming is unlike anything we’ve ever had – virtual concerts and ball drops, online chats, a socially distant stroll in the open air.
Even so, there are always those who find the bright spots. Semaj Temple said she was grateful for the 2020 lessons and all the free time she had with them.
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“I look forward to all of the new things that will come with change and how I can adapt to those things,” she said.
Back at the Cliff House, accepting change is not that easy. The crowd lingered there for a while, taking in a sight that will not extend into the New Year.
“I don’t think things will go back to normal, I don’t think things will ever go back to normal,” said Tom Hontalas, who owned Loui’s, another popular San Francisco restaurant that was closed from the pandemic.
He remains hopeful, but until 2020 he has a simple farewell: “Good liberation.”
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