Sweet Sea Lions: A Pier 39 Anniversary

It's a 25th birthday party weekend for San Francisco's barkiest icons.

THOSE SUNNING SUPERSTARS: Most icons of a beloved city tend to stay put in the spot they were first placed. Take San Francisco, for instance. Want to find Coit Tower? Any map that was printed ten years ago will still be correct today, as to the tower's whereabouts. How about Union Square? Same deal:  The shopping nexus has remained pretty much as is, location-wise, for decades upon decades. But there's one metropolitan favorite that moves a little, each day. Oh, not in general place -- Pier 39 is pretty much a standard spot for these icons -- but you'll likely never see the exact formation or line-up or positioning twice. We speak of the sea lions that have visited the pier with tourist- and local-delighting regularity since late 1989. The Pier 39 sea lions are known the world over, and much of the world has now seen them over the last quarter century, seen them sunning, snoozing, swimming, and staring into the Bay. Nope, they didn't all arrive in the San Francisco Bay 25 years ago, as a part of some grand, banner-bedecked sea lion parade, but they did start showing up at Pier 39's K-Dock in whiskery, barky profusion (the Loma Prieta earthquake and dock renovation have been cited as reasons the sea lions set up house at the pier). 

HAPPY 25TH, PIER 39 SEA LIONS: The restaurant- and shop-lined destination is pausing over the third weekend in January to honor its pinnipeds, which "haul out" or shimmy out of the ocean for various periods of time, much to the delight of we landlubbers. Though perhaps "much to the delight" doesn't go nearly far enough; have you ever stopped by the pier and not seen some human, camera up, snapping the not-too-far-away sea lions? It would be a rare sight to see no one admiring the resident barkers.

AS FOR THE FESTIVAL? That barks from Jan. 16 through 19, 2015. Looks for walking tours and deals around the pier, or just gaze out upon the pinniped action, which shimmies and jostles and barks and moves around as sea lions join or leave for a quick dip. Truly, landmarks stay still, but these icons are forever changing, even as they keep close to K-Dock and Pier 39. Truly, the San Francisco sea lions are pretty singular in this regard, and oh so dang cute.

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