Every day, San Francisco cable car operators bring a piece of local history to life, and that's pretty cool. In fact, today marks a particularly fun day for those operators because, as they have for the last 52 years running, the best of the best will compete in a Muni-sponsored bell ringing contest at Union Square.
"The idea is to recreate the atmosphere of an operator in service, featuring his or her best showmanship for customers coasting along San Francisco’s scenic cable car lines," the SFMTA website reads. "Operators are judged on rhythm, originality and style."
"The rules are simple," it goes on: "no props, no electronic devices, no additional accompaniment, dress in uniform." Judges of the contest include San Francisco Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White and locally beloved Sir Francis Drake doorman Tom Sweeney
One thing will be different about this year's competition, the Assosciated Press reports: For the first time ever, a woman will compete: Cassandra Griffin, a cable car operator and SF native who now lives with her family in Richmond.
“No woman has ever done it, and that is true,” the Examiner quotes Griffin. “I’m not that good, but I’ll try,” the paper says she added.
While women cable car bell ringing contestants are new, women cable car operators are not. Many will remember that it was none other than author Maya Angelou who served as the first black female cable car conductor in San Francisco. "I loved the uniforms," she once recalled.