The Emperor's Bridge Campaign



The First Annual Tannenbaum Toast

Starting in 1880, and every year since, a grand tree has stood in San Francisco's Union Square during the holiday season — the first such public Christmas tree in the country.

Word is that it was Emperor Norton (c.1818-1880) who decreed the start of this wonderful tradition.

So, kick off the holidays in regal style! On Sunday 8 December from 4 to 6 p.m., join The Emperor's Bridge Campaign and the Bay Area's favorite modern-day Emperor, at one of San Francisco's classic bars — just a stone's throw from Union Square — in a toast to the Emperor for his kindness in calling for a great Christmas tree for all to enjoy during the holidays.

And learn more about the Campaign's efforts to advance the ongoing people's movement to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for Emperor Norton and — in so doing — to honor the Emperor; what he stands for; and his vision in calling for the bridge in 1872.

The Christmas tree in Union Square, 1910. | Source: Oakland Public Library history room

Inspired by the 1824 Christmas carol "O Tannenbaum" ("O Christmas Tree"), we're calling this event — as well as the toast itself and the drink we'll be toasting with — The Tannenbaum Toast.

We hope that this will inaugurate a tradition to be repeated every year on the second Sunday of December.

The Toast is being held at the fabulously restored House of Shields (1908).

The formal toast — at 5 p.m. — is to be offered by the Emperor himself, as played by Joseph Amster of Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine.

(Those who would like an imperial escort to the Toast can join us at the Union Square Christmas tree — between the tree and the Dewey monument — at 3:30 p.m. We'll be joined by the Emperor, and will stroll over with him to The House of Shields at about 3:45.)

The drink is The House of Shields's version of the classic Boothby — created in 1908 by legendary San Francisco bartender William T. "Cocktail" Boothby, during his tenure at the Palace Hotel, just across the street from The House of Shields.

Please RSVP here. We'll see you in the mezzanine!

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