SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department announced today the naming of the Robin Williams Meadow, the meadow located adjacent to Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Building in honor of the late Robin Williams, the legendary comedian and longtime Bay Area resident. Throughout his life, Mr. Williams made great contributions to local and international communities, but for many San Franciscans, his support for the annual free Comedy Day in Golden Gate Park, was one of his most memorable. Comedy Day, the annual free event, began in 1981 in Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, then due to expanding crowds was relocated to the Polo Field, and now Sharon Meadow. The event has brought together nearly 1,000 of the world’s funniest comedians to provide laughs to more than half a million people over 37 years.
“Through his comedy, Robin Williams brought so much light into this world, which is why it is fitting that we are naming a beautiful outdoor meadow in his honor,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Robin was one of San Francisco’s cherished sons, whose selfless acts of philanthropy benefitted communities across our city. We will forever remember him fondly and the Robin Williams Meadow will be a lasting testament to his legacy.”
According to SF Rec and Park’s Historian-in-Residence, Christopher Pollock, in his published book, “San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: A Thousand and Seventeen Acres of Stories”, described Sharon Meadow as a location that was identified in 1894 as an ideal picturesque surrounding area for the Sharon Building, a Victorian Romanesque style building designed by architects George Washington Percy and Frederick F. Hamilton, and named after William Sharon, a banker, a U.S. Senator from Nevada, and a partner of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel. The Meadow served as an emergency hospital with medical dispensary and commissary during the cataclysmic earthquake and fire in 1906. By 1960s, the Flower Children who flooded the streets of Haight-Ashbury neighborhood during the countercultural movement occupied the Meadow that later became known as the Hippie Hill to many.
Today, surrounded by Sharon Arts Studio housed in Sharon Building, lawn bowling court, tennis courts, and Koret Children’s Playground and historic Carousel, the Meadow is a beloved hangout for the diverse communities in San Francisco. It is also where SF Rec and Park hosts Eggstravaganza, its annual egg hunt at the Meadow entertaining thousands of children and their families every Spring.
“Robin Williams was known for his humor and kindness and like Comedy Day, he was about making people laugh – no matter who they are. Because the event’s mission embodies Mr. Williams’ true nature as a comedian and kind spirit as a human being, it is so fitting to name this meadow after Mr. Williams where thousands of people freely gather to perform, laugh and enjoy each other’s company every year,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park’s General Manager.
San Francisco’s professional comedy community joins together each year to support Comedy Day, an highly-entertaining, five-hour show in Golden Gate Park. The Punch Line, Cobb’s Comedy Club, SF Sketchfest, and others help make Comedy Day the most anticipated comedy event of the year. This year’s Comedy Day will take place on Sunday, September 17th in Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park.
“As President of the Board and Producer of Comedy Celebration Day, I am elated and proud to be able to publicly announce the naming of Robin Williams Meadow this coming Sunday, September 17th. Robin was a friend not only to me, but to Comedy Day and the entire City of San Francisco,” said Debi Durst, Producer and President of Comedy Day. “He always made an appearance at the show if he was in town, and was there at the very beginning in 1981. It was always magical whenever he appeared during Comedy Day; you could feel the excitement and the electricity coming from the audience as Robin danced upon the stage, wowing the hometown crowd with his hilarious antics. We miss him horribly, and think it is only fitting that this wonderful Meadow, where he made so many people laugh and forget their troubles for the day will be named in his honor. As Comedy Day’s late founder Jose Simon used to say “Long Live the Comic Spirit.”
Williams is perhaps most widely revered for his performance in Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting. His performance earned Williams an Oscar® and Screen Actors Guild award. The Academy previously nominated Williams for Best Actor in The Fisher King, Dead Poets Society, and Good Morning Vietnam. Williams also garnered a special honor from the National Board of Review for his performance opposite Robert De Niro in Awakenings. In 2004, Williams received the prestigious Career Achievement Award from the Chicago International Film festival and, in 2005, the HFPA honored him with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. In 2007, Williams’ received the Peter J. Owens Award for excellence in acting from the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Williams took great joy in supporting causes from health care and human rights, to education, environmental protection, and the arts. Headlining a number of USO tours, Williams traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan five times to help raise morale among the troops. Williams’ efforts with “Comic Relief” raised over $50 million dollars to help America’s homeless.