9/11: San Francisco chocolate festival shows balance of bitter, sweet


Chocolate enthusiasts pose for photos at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival on Sept. 11. Participants chose to attend over Opera in the Park, which explicitly commemorated those who lost their lives in the World Trade Center attacks.

Zoe Pleasure, Legend staff writer

The sounds of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” floated through the air and combined with the smell of freshly melted Ghirardelli milk chocolate: the annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival just happened to be celebrating its 16th anniversary on the weekend of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. Families gathered to celebrate chocolate and the city by attending a festival at the home base for one of the most famous chocolate companies in San Francisco.

Many individuals refused to be interviewed about the subject of 9/11, but a few were willing to reveal why they chose to commemorate cocoa on the anniversary of one of the biggest tragedies in the United States.

Regarding the relationship between the chocolate festival and 9/11, Elda Paritni from Novato, Calif., said she “doesn’t know that one has to do with the other.”

She went on to say “even though I am here, it (the 9/11 terror attack) is still on my mind.”

Jan, a San Francisco resident who declined to give her last name, said she had decided to spend the day “enjoying the city” and trying to appreciate life.

The overall attitude at the festival was one of jubilation and happiness. There was no visible sorrow, only people dancing to the Rolling Stones cover band, the Unauthorized Rolling Stones. There was no visible evidence of increased security.

On a day when several other San Francisco events marked the tragedy of 9/11, including a firefighters’ climb up the Transamerica Pyramid and a mass gathering at Golden Gate Park, at the chocolate festival the mournful events taking place in other parts of city seemed to far in the back of everyone’s mind. Many attendees appeared to be parents and children who were looking for something entertaining to do on a Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. The only reminder that it was Sept. 11th was the presence of a sticker on a passerby’s shirt.