That VIP event for APEC week hosted by President Joe Biden happened at the Exploratorium on Wednesday evening, and you might have seen or heard the fireworks going off as it was winding down.
As near as we can tell, the only press that attended the big party was ABC 7 — with reporter Dion Lim newly back from maternity leave — whose studios are directly across the Embarcadero from the Exploratorium, and the SF Standard, who may have had an in through Silicon Valley types in attendance like Garry Tan and Chris Larson.
Brief speeches were given by President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Governor Gavin Newson, and Mayor London Breed — and the Standard notes that Biden called Newsom a "helluva governor," and most awkwardly given all the press attention Newsom has courted in the last year for his non-presidential bid, Biden said somethting to the effect of "one day he could have the job I’m looking for." (Newsom even upstaged Biden's meeting with Xi Jinping by meeting with him in China three weeks ago.)
"There's reason to be optimistic," Biden said in his remarks. "I was once asked by Xi Jinping in China... he said 'Define America for me,' and I said, 'I can, in one word.' And I mean it, I said, 'Possibility.'"
First week back from maternity leave and in the front row as Gwen Stefani, @POTUS and @FLOTUS watch fireworks at the @exploratorium for @APEC! Talk about jumping right back into it! #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/dBdXWie7Gr— Dion Lim (@DionLimTV) November 16, 2023
As ABC 7 reports, other dignitaries in attendance including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Philippine President Bongbong Marcos, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who all made appearances at the reception.
Also there, per the Standard, were Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, OpenAI's Sam Altman, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, both California Senators Alex Padilla and Laphonza Butler, and Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.
There was also a lavish food spread at multiple stations, including tamales and clam chowder, and open bars all around.
Thankfully the rain dissipated in time for Gwen Stefani to perform her three-song set at an outdoor stage, which reportedly included "The Sweet Escape," "Hollaback Girl," and "Don't Speak."
And then there was a brief but showy fireworks display to cap things off, before sending the president off to bed by 9.
Big Fireworks show 🎇 with President Biden and Chinese President Xi at the @exploratorium for a big gala with dignitaries and other world leaders in town for #APEC2023SF #apec @kpixtv@POTUS #SanFrancisco pic.twitter.com/sbTf2Ttvj8— Ryan Yamamoto (@RyanKPIX) November 16, 2023
Photo: Elisha Terada