The block parties and judging contests in the SF Fire Department holiday decoration contest are scheduled for Wednesday, and these five SF fire stations are decked out with gushers of yuletide razzle-dazzle that you won’t want to miss.
The last two holiday seasons have harked and heralded back to the late 1940s, as in that era, an old-time holiday decorations contest lit up San Francisco Fire Department stations all over town. The contest returned in 2020, and now the Chronicle has the latest on the 2022 SF Fire Department holiday decorations contest, as that paper notes that “The contest will be expanded in 2022, fire officials said, with stations encouraged to host block parties on Dec. 21, 2022, when the judging occurs, and prize money totaling $3,000 provided by the San Francisco Fire Credit Union going to the charity of the winning stations’ choosing.”
The 12 Firehouses of Christmas #3 (a preview of next week's San Francisco Story): Engine Company 6 at 356 7th Street in 1949. I'm a fan of giant Santas, and the artwork on those sign is top-notch graphic design.@SFFDPIO pic.twitter.com/5D7sh83k3U— Woody LaBounty (@WoodyLaBounty) December 18, 2022
SFist went to every single SF Fire station for the 2021 holiday decorations contest, but we found that not every station is technically competing. Some just throw up a couple of wreaths and some lights and call it a (holi-) day. But some other stations are absolutely worth the trip for your holiday light-gazing, or a spot on your itinerary for Wednesday night’s official block parties, as these five SF Fire stations have decked out with the holliest, jolliest, full-blown, four-alarm light-up holiday decoration spectaculars.
Station 38 (2150 California Street)
Right near Lafayette Park, Station 38 contains so many multitudes of holiday cheer that one image cannot do its gingerbread justice. So let’s go to the detail pictures!
A life-size inflatable Grinch and a Santa climbing the tree cover the western flank of this station.
Is it fair game in this contest that all of this California Street’s block has trees has matching the station's holiday gaiety? We’ll leave that for the judges to decide, but this is certainly a joyous SF fire station at which to go a’ wassailing on a December evening.
STATION 39 (1091 Portola Drive)
It is absolutely mixed nuts up at Station 39 next to Mount Davidson, with an assortment of Frostys, Santas, trees, and an animated light spectacular.
And this year, they’ve added a firefighter to that holiday scene, and we’ll hope that blue stream is a hose fighting a fire.
There are animated displays as seen above, which our still photos could not properly capture.
And Station 39 really brings the blink on its garage door facade as well.
STATION 18 (1935 32nd Avenue)
Surely the biggest “tree” of the bunch is at the Sunset District’s Station 18, which is impressive enough, but its multicolored animated snowfall seen below completes the winter wonderland scene.
STATION 19 (390 Buckingham Way)
The sugar plums are dancing again at Station 19, right adjacent to the Stonestown Galleria, which once again busts a Nutcracker theme out, in decorations rumored to have been from a shopping mall display from Christmas past.
Check these twin Drosselmeyer soldiers, lording over a gaggle of gifts and next to a regal green oversized holiday seat.
Two more soldiers are stationed at the east side, ensuring none of the King Rat’s rodents would dare set paw near this station.
BUREAU OF EQUIPMENT (2501 25th Street)
Last year’s grand prize winner was the Bureau of Equipment at 25th and Vermont Streets, in no small part because they had a snow machine as part of that station’s display.
Yes, it was snowing in San Francisco, as seen in the video above from that station’s display last year. The trouble is, there is no posted schedule for the snow machine, so it’s pretty hit-or-miss if the machine will be going during your visit. But an event permit posted at the site lists dates its dates as December 19-23 (the permit blocks off parking spaces, as apparently cars get snowed on), and certainly they’re likely to have that baby arctic-blasting for Wednesday night’s block party proceedings.
Update: They upped the ante this year at the BOE and trucked in 15 cubic yards of actual Sierra snow for a Wednesday "winter wonderland" party.
A holiday tradition among fire stations in San Francisco to see which crew can pull off the best Christmas decorations, was taken up a notch, when the station on 25th street brought real snow from the Sierra to The City. https://t.co/uUep1RV82g— KTVU (@KTVU) December 21, 2022
We do not yet have the full list of which SF Fire stations are officially competing in the contest. But a few more other individual stations have announced they are competing, and photos of their joys to the world can be seen below.
ADF Station 49 has entered the Holiday Station Decoration Competition! This is a HUGE location with lots of pride and cheer!!@SFFFLocal798 @sfchronicle @SFFireCU @peterhartlaub pic.twitter.com/fUmGXCo3Wq— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) December 16, 2022
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist