Dozens of San Francisco fire stations have gone all out to create spectacular Christmas light shows for their holiday decorations competition, and we’ve got pictures and video of every single one of them.
In 2020, San Francisco fire stations revived a tradition from grandma and granddad’s day, after a report from the Chronicle sounded the siren to bring back the SF fire station holiday decorations contest. That contest was scuttled in 1951 over some prudish backlash that the fire departments were spending more than their allotted $50 per station on decorations, but the Chronicle’s report mustered up enough holiday cheer that the SF Fire Department decided to pull all the St. Nick stops again. The holiday decorations contest is bigger and better than ever in 2021, so SFist tromped out to all 44 San Francisco fire stations to get pictures and video of every single display.
2021 SFFD HOLIDAY DECORATIONS COMPETITION V2 https://t.co/NQwxupZbnL— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) December 16, 2021
STATIONS OFFICIALLY ENTERED
12.STATION 35 pic.twitter.com/4IqXM660s5
As of the fire department’s most recent announcement, there are only 12 stations “officially entered” in the contest (The top three winners get $3,000, $2,000 or $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice). But there are a whopping 34 fire stations that are to some degree decorated for Christmas, and many that didn’t enter have vastly more spectacular displays than the official entries. We’ve listed the 12 official entries below, followed by an “Honorable Mention” section that shows all the other displays. The address for each fire station is listed too, so you and yours can go bask in that holiday glow.
Bureau of Equipment (2501 25th Street)
They’ve got a snow machine out there at the fire department’s Bureau of Equipment! As seen above, San Francisco children, dogs, and grownups can all truly find themselves dashing in the snow and having a white Christmas near 25th Street and Potrero Avenue.
The station’s snow-blowing schedule is unclear, and may not even be structured. They don’t blow snow all night like a ski resort, and we went by, the machine was gone, but there was definitely some snowball fight potential with the holiday leftovers laying around.
The station otherwise has an illuminated inflatable Santa and Frosty, lights along the perimeter and arches, and impressive layouts of wreaths and garland. But just the snow machine alone should be enough to win this contest, right? Reader, a snow machine alone will not be enough to win this contest.
Station 38 is impressive!— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) December 18, 2021
Hand made chimney
Candy can flag pole
Complete lighting of North side of street
Mechanical Santa Climbing Ladder
And more…… #SFFDHOLIDAY2021 @peterhartlaub @SFFireCU @adamferrara @TheNFRF @SFFFLocal798 pic.twitter.com/kT1sRkMxqC
Station 38 (2150 California Street)
This Lower Pac Heights fire station has Christmafied an entire city block, with features like a mechanical Santa (!), a handmade chimney, and a candy cane flag pole.
Trees are illuminated and lit up on the entire block of the north side of the street, so the display spills out far beyond the station itself.
Seasick crocodile the Grinch is poised above too, but there’s more Christmas here than he can possibly steal.
Their razle-dazzle Station 38 signifier has so much yuletide sparkling away that we had to take a video.
And holy infant tender and mild, are those illuminated presents under the tree? No detail is missed in this sprawling display that has countless tiny, tinselly touches.
STATION 19 (390 Buckingham Way)
They are fully Drosselemeyer-ed up at Station 19, where a Nutcracker-themed display shows real commitment to the bit.
These life-size toy soldier dolls stand guard at a chair you can actually sit on for selfies, a true gingerbread snap Instagram trap.
And it’s like sugarplums of Smurfberry Crunch with these golden boys, surrounded by lovingly applied floral arrangements and wreathing.
Station 18 (1935 32nd Avenue)
The Outer Sunset’s Station 18 is a meticulously decorated onslaught of red and green that can only be fully appreciated with all of its animated LED blinkies going at full blast.
You’ll even find these babies dancing across the ground via projection.
Station 18 also has a giant green Christmas light tree, and lights about its respective arch and fencing.
STATION 16 (2251 Greenwich Street)
Check out this Marina Santa driving his playboy speedboat, sporting the latest fashion eyewear from the Sunglass Hut on Chestnut Street. Is this Santa a satirical commentary on the Marina neighborhood? We would like to think that it is.
The full display has some additional trim work, plus a reindeer inner-tubing it behind Santa.
STATION 39 (1091 Portola Drive)
The elegant tweet above does not do justice to the delightfully tacky holiday stylings of the Sherwood Forest Station 39.
We've got an inflatable Frosty, inflatable Santa, and inflatable Christmas tree going, plus oversized snowflakes being projection-mapped across the building’s facade.
Plus the “SFFD” in lit lettering is another commendable touch.
The decorations are up! We'll be sharing photos all week, but be sure to get out there and check them out. Here's Station 8 spreading the holiday cheer!#SFFDHoliday2021 #HolidayDecorations #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/PYYrJmrUk4— SF Fire Credit Union (@SFFireCU) December 13, 2021
STATION 8 (36 Bluxome Street)
There’s a nice hidden surprise down Caltrain Station way, on little-known Bluxome Street, in between Fourth and Fifth Streets.
Up on the rooftop, we’ve got a jumbo inflatable Santa, plus the alley is illuminated with a simple but very effective string light scheme.
STATION 1 (935 Folsom)
The Alley Cats of Fire Station 1 have a pleasant display in SoMa. One of the wreaths had its light burned out when we went by, but we’ll cut them slack, as they’re traditionally one of the busiest fire stations in town.
The decorations are up! We'll be sharing photos all week, but be sure to get out there and check them out. Here's Station 6 spreading the holiday cheer!#SFFDHoliday2021 #HolidayCheer #SanFrancisco #Christmas pic.twitter.com/oeZLMdAzyZ— SF Fire Credit Union (@SFFireCU) December 15, 2021
STATION 6 (135 Sanchez)
The Castro’s Station 6 has certainly decked the halls with holiday joy in the tweet above!
But when we went by, it was more of a Kubrick Christmas.
STATION 7 (2300 Folsom Street)
Really tasteful work here at Station 7 between the Mission and SoMa. It’s not going to blow eight tiny reindeer out of the sky, but there’s a certain classic quality to it.
STATION 35 (Pier 22½, The Embarcadero at Harrison Street)
There are many unfair advantages for the “floating fire station” at Pier 22½, because it’s surrounded by so much other terrific Embarcadero holiday lighting. The real scene-stealer there is the display behind Epic Steakhouse, which is accessible to everyone, and a walk down this section of the Embarcadero is highly recommended.
STATION 49 (2241 Jerrold Avenue)
You won’t get very close to Station 49, as much of this Bayshore Boulevard-adjacent area is gated up parking lots without much pedestrian access through. But it is decorated to be admired from afar, and wise men are likely bringing it frankincense and myrrh as we speak.
These SF fire departments did not formally enter the contest, but their Christmas contributions certainly deserve to be acknowledged.
Station 41 (1325 Leavenworth Street)
SF Fire Station 2 (1340 Powell Street)
SF Fire Station 20 (285 Olympia Way)
SF Fire Station 20 (285 Olympia Way)
Station 51 (218 Lincoln Blvd)
Station 4 (449 Mission Rock)
Station 3 (1067 Post Street)
Station 33 (8 Capitol Avenue)
Station 13 (530 Sansome Street)
Station 22 (1290 16th Avenue)
Station 40 (2155 18th Avenue)
Station 34 (499 41st Avenue)
Station 11 (3880 26th Street)
Station 32 (194 Park Street)
Station 17 (1295 Shafter Avenue)
Station 29 (299 Vermont Street)
Station 21 (1443 Grove Street)
Station 42 (2430 San Bruno Avenue)
Station 9 (2245 Jerrold Avenue)
Station 26 (80 Digby Street)
NOTE: This is a cul-de-sac, and this light display might be entirely the work of some neighbors, not the fire station.
Related: 14 Animated GIFs of SF's Most Outrageous Holiday Light Displays
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist