News Briefs: Castro holiday tree lighting coming up

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022
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Santa stopped by the annual lighting of the Castro Merchants' holiday tree in 2018 to pass out candy canes to the children who were there. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Santa stopped by the annual lighting of the Castro Merchants' holiday tree in 2018 to pass out candy canes to the children who were there. Photo: Rick Gerharter

The Castro Merchants Association will hold its holiday tree lighting ceremony Monday, November 28, at 6 p.m. at Castro and 18th streets, in front of the Bank of America building.

David Karraker and Terrance Allen, co-presidents of the merchants' group, stated in the organization's newsletter that San Francisco Mayor London Breed will lead the lighting countdown. She will be joined by gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), gay District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, and others. Santa will be on hand, along with drag artist Donna Sachet, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band (the city's official band), and much more.

The event is meant to kick off the holiday shopping season in the LGBTQ neighborhood.

The Castro Art Mart will be held Sunday, December 4, from noon to 5 p.m. at Noe and Market streets. The art mart features the work of local artists as well as live performances, including some of the Castro's top drag talent. It's free and fun for the whole family for an amazing time in San Francisco's most famous neighborhood, the announcement stated.

The merchants' group will hold its second annual Winter Wonderland block party Sunday, December 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Noe and Market streets, using the group's Shared Spaces permit and grant funds. Santa will be on hand for free photos, along with a petting zoo, and drag performances and story time.

The block party, which is free, will also include LGBTQ artists and other surprises, the newsletter stated. Karraker and Allen noted these tent pole events help bring foot traffic to the area.

Post office's Operation Santa is underway

The United States Postal Service has once again started its Operation Santa program whereby people sign up online to "adopt" letters and fulfill holiday wishes. The program relies on random acts of kindness and the generosity of strangers, a news release stated. For 100 years, the program has provided some extra magic to those in need during the holiday season.

People interested in adopting letters must sign up and have their identity verified. Even if they have participated in the past, a new account is needed, the release stated. Beginning November 28, letter adopters can visit the website and read through the posted letters, choosing one or more to fulfill. Once the letters are chosen, adopters must follow the directions included in their welcome email to fulfill the holiday wishes. Letter adopters are responsible for all postage costs to ship the gift packages.

People writing letters through the program do not need to register, the release stated.

Businesses and other organizations can get into the spirit of the season by creating teams to adopt letters, though all participants will need to complete the verification process.

Letters will be available for adoption through December 19.

For more information, visit the above website.

Closing party for Moth Belly fundraiser

Moth Belly Gallery will have its closing reception for its third annual fundraising auction Saturday, November 26, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 912 Larkin Street in San Francisco. The auction features exclusive works by over 60 Bay Area, national, and international artists, according to a news release.

Moth Belly is a nonprofit that is fiscally sponsored by Intersection for the Arts, the release stated. It operates on a volunteer basis and pays a considerably higher percentage to its exhibited artists, officials said. It was founded in the fall of 2020 and has been open to the public with monthly exhibits since October 2021.

The auction itself is online until 8 p.m. November 26, which is Small Business Saturday. For more information, click here.

Volleyball is one of the sports offered at the upcoming Sin City Classic. Photo: Courtesy Sin City Classic  

Sin City Classic returns to Vegas in January
The Greater Los Angeles Softball Association has announced that pickleball and sand volleyball will be added to the Sin City Classic LGBTQ+ sports festival set for January 12-15 in Las Vegas.

Hosted by the Flamingo Las Vegas, the Sin City Classic will feature a total of 24 sports and expects 10,000 queer athletes and allies to attend from around the world, a news release stated.

"Now in our 16th year, the Sin City Classic continues to grow and evolve," stated GLASA Commissioner and Sin City Classic co-Executive Director Jason Peplinski. "This year we see the addition of pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and sand volleyball, adding to the diverse lineup of competitions and events the festival offers."

Organizers also announced that nominations are now open for the second annual Ken Scearce Leadership Award. It was created in 2022 to honor the memory and legacy of Scearce, the former executive director of the festival who died in 2021, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported. The award recognizes athletes, leaders, coaches, referees, and other volunteers. To nominate someone, click here.

For more information about Sin City Classic and to register teams, click here.

Last chance to take trans survey
The National Center for Transgender Equality has announced that the deadline for people to take the U.S. Trans Survey has been extended to Monday, December 5.

"Good news! So far, tens of thousands of people have taken the U.S. Trans Survey," NCTE officials stated in an email announcement. "Wow! That's a great number, but we know that our community is strong and there are even more trans people around the country. That's where you come in. If you haven't taken the survey yet, this is your chance. If you've taken the survey already, thank you!"

The survey, which launched October 19, is being conducted by NCTE in partnership with the National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, the TransLatin@ Coalition, and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.

NCTE's last national trans survey was taken in 2015 and, as the website noted, "a lot has happened since then." For that survey, NCTE stated that more than 27,000 people responded. Organizers hope that more people will take the survey this year.

To take the survey, click here.

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