Who's Got the Golden Ticket ... Er, Key ... For the Palace Hotel in San Fran?
Located somewhere in the Bay Area? Keep your eyes peeled for flying room keys. A Golden Room Key, to be precise. If this specimen (possibly still tied to a festive bunch of balloons) whacks you in the head or plops onto your car's windscreen, it's your lucky day. You'll get to play Charlie—only instead of a visit to a chocolate factory with a bunch of obnoxious kids you'll get three nights at the fancy Palace Hotel in San Francisco.
The Golden Ticket ... er, Key, is part of the hotel's 100th Birthday Celebrations, and was released into the overcast sky above San Francisco yesterday, inside a helium-filled yellow balloon. Whoever finds the balloon containing the key will win a three-day stay in the hotel's Presidential Suite. History Buffs may remember this as the room where President Warren G. Harding died in 1923. but as long as you're not easily spooked this shouldn't keep you from enjoying the opulence of 2-bedroom, 2-bath suite with its own grand piano.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the balloon—sent off with champagne toasts and waving hotel staff yesterday—
... drifted northeast, over the city, soaring through the Financial District, past the dour, dark Bank of America building, off toward the bay and headed nobody knows where.
The same room-key-in-balloon trick was staged back in December 1909, when the hotel was rebuilt and reopened after the fire and earthquake of 1906. It disappeared.
So while you're walking around waiting for something to fall out of the sky, you might also want to raid Granny's attic. Who knows. Find the original Golden Key and The Palace might just give you a stay in the Presidential Suite as well.
Spied a bunch of yellow balloons in or around San Francisco? Let us know!
[Photo: Lance Iversen / The Chronicle]