By Lupita Franco Peimbert
(San Francisco) – What business owner Manny Yekutiel and the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association set up to achieve months ago, came to fruition on Friday night, May 7, 2021. A popular destination in San Francisco’s Mission District, Valencia Street is now adorned with LED street lights –giving it a cozy, welcoming feeling to people ready to enjoy life and the freedom of gathering again. And for that, a lighting ceremony took place, muy a la San Francisco!
Like other businesses in the United States, the members of the Valencia Street Corridor Merchants Association endured months of restrictions due to the COVID, but the power of community helped them move forward.
Putting ideas into action, Manny Yekutiel and friends set a GoFundMe campaign, held some meetings and worked on this goal. Months later on Friday, they were there, figuratively and literally lighting up Valencia St. “It is our hope and intention that they serve as a beautiful little beacon to bring back our precious customers and neighbors,” said Manny Yekutiel, owner of Mannys.
The GoFundMe campaign brought in $40K to pay for the lights for ten blocks. The campaign continues and people interested can still donate at https://www.tinyurl.com/valencialights
At least 500 people participated in the ceremony in the middle of the street, which is closed to traffic in certain blocks on weekends through the end of June. It was exciting to see the joyful gathering while others sat outside of restaurants and bars, watching and participating from across the street. This is the San Francisco many people want to be part of.
The presence of Sister Roma and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who blessed the ceremony, reminded us how special and unique San Francisco is, and why it is so important to cherish key figures in the community. Besides, the Sisters are always clever and interesting to watch!
The street lights are situated on both sides of Valencia Street, from 14th St. through 24th St. “It’s a project built by the community and we should all be so proud of that fact. We did this together.” said Jonah Buffa, co-owner of Fellow Barber and President of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association.
Street musicians and mariachis abound on Valencia Street, delighting those who love to pair drinks and food with music. Mariachi “Puro Jalisco” also performed during the ceremony, and a few local leaders were present along with members of local media.
Lighting up Valencia Street is the first known community effort since the pandemic and it may soon be follow by other neighborhoods and associations in San Francisco and elsewhere. Kudos to that!
The Valencia Corridor offers a variety of services and unique shopping experiences, and a number of restaurants with authentic food from Mexico, El Salvador, Vietnam, USA (Texas), Japan, Pakistan, India, California, and more. For a map of businesses, please click here: https://valenciastreetsf.com/map/