Over the course of the Exposition, the Department of Special Days and Events arranged for 828 special days and 966 event attractions. To accomplish this feat, many days were shared by several different celebrants so that one day actually represented several “special days”. Virtually everything that could be celebrated was: notable people (both historic and contemporary), states, countries, counties, buildings, ideas, art, music, small stones and numerous accomplishments. Some of the special days and events had great relevance while others were less significant. The desire of the Exposition to have as much as possible for the people to see and do led to many minor events. Many of the special days and events will be presented in various other parts of this website where applicable, such as sports and athletics, the palaces or foreign and state buildings pages.
At six a.m. on February twentieth, a great clamor went up from the city of San Francisco with the intent of rousing a mob. Not just any mob however, a mob of conscientious citizens who had paid in advance. The morning of opening day began with every fire bell, every siren, every trolley car and church bell going off at once. In areas too far away from such things, bands drove around the neighborhoods playing music. Neighbors began to wake each other and assemble in the streets. This was the plan all along. The citizens of San Francisco were to march across their city to Van Ness Avenue where the mayor awaited with a great assembly of bands and dignitaries. Once amassed, all one hundred and fifty thousand, they marched on the city within the city-the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
The Exposition officers had a march of their own that morning. They left the California building at the Northern most point in the Exposition and headed south to the Tower of Jewels where they took their place upon the grandstand. The gates were opened and at ten o’clock the masses poured in to the exposition in reverent silence. The Fountain of Energy rose before them with the Tower of Jewels behind. Prayers, poems and speeches were given. The representative of President Wilson read a message from him, then gave a speech of his own,
“Here in this new city of new interests the Pioneer has called together all his enterprises, that we may learn. We are to live side by side forever. The seas are now but a highway before the doors of the nations. Our neighbors will come to know their neighbors across the seas-that we have no hatred in our hearts for any, that we have no fear, that we have no envy, for nothing can add to our welfare. The long journey of this mighty figure is at an end, the waste places of the earth have been found and filled, but adventure is not at an end. The greatest adventure is before us, the gigantic adventure of an advancing democracy, strong, virile, and kindly, and in that advance we shall be true to the indestructible spirit of the American Pioneer.”
Then the Exposition President sent a telegraph to President Wilson in Washington DC. Upon receipt, the President pressed a golden key which sent a signal three thousand miles from a tower in New Jersey to the Tower of Jewels. This spurred the Exposition to life. The Palaces exploded to life as the doors swung open. Above the city, Lincoln Beachey flew his aeroplane in loop the loops as it spewed white doves into the sky. The exposition had been officially opened. The people approved and they spread out over the grounds to take it in. Musical concerts were held and a fireworks display ended the first day of the great year.
It was rain for the second straight day at the expo on February twenty third, though this did not dampen the spirits of the hundreds of exposition stock holders whom showed up for the day dedicated to them. They assembled at the Scott Street entrance and were met by Creatore’s Band. They marched around the Fountain of Energy to Festival Hall. Speeches were delivered to describe the part the stockholders had played in ensuring the exposition’s completion. This exposition was the first to open on time and on budget. Following three cheers for the exposition management, everybody lingered about congratulating each other on a job well done.
The exposition held a special day to celebrate the many people who were responsible for its design on February twenty fifth. A procession marched from the Scott Street entrance to the Court of the Universe where speeches were given to congratulate the designers and to thank the exposition boards for their part. Bronze Medals were handed out.
The District Attorneys’ Association of California received a plaque, honors and February 25th dedicated to them. There was a presentation at the Festival Hall.
The first California County to be celebrated at the Exposition was San Mateo County. San Mateo used its space in the California Building to showcase its floriculture. The event was held in the California Building ballroom. Two women from San Mateo handed out boutonnieres made from Princess Violets and a girl from Colma presented the exposition president with a basket of them. The Exposition President thanked San Mateo County for the prompt support of the expo in its infancy.
Last updated: July 15, 2015