On Scene With Bill Wilson: Court History


The graves of  Emperor Norton (left) and the Widow Norton lie in front of each other at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma

The Imperial Court of San Francisco, founded by Jose Sarria in 1965, is undergoing adjustments after the death of its founder last August. Among the traditions and events under evaluation was the annual trek to Colma by the Widow Norton to pay homage to The Emperor Norton. I can report with great enthusiasm that under the leadership of Donna Sachet, Absolute Empress 30, the “Annual Pilgrimage to Colma” will continue. If the first pilgrimage without the Widow is any indication the annual visits will be the quirky, lovely, somber, funny, musical, only in San Francisco event, it has always been. This year, as in the past several years. the event was emceed by Donna Sachet and “the Other Jose” Cisneros, SF City Treasurer.



 Emperor Norton provided some of the historical context for the day.

Although Jose Sarria was not there in person Reverend Don Fox of Night Ministries did a good job of channeling the Widow and relaying her messages for us.

The Night Ministries has long been associated with the Imperial Court. They have made it their mission to support and care for the others in our society.



New Emperor J. P. Soto  receives his medallion of office from Emperor Berlin as other Emperors in attendance watch.

 When I attended my first trek to Colma in 1999, the new Emperor was T.J Istvan and the new Empress was Sheba. At the time the ceremony included the oath of office for the new monarchs who were sworn in by the Widow Norton. Over the years that part of the ceremony has been revised for various reasons many doing with the health of the founder. This year the new Emperor received his medallion of office from the former Emperors in attendance as a token of support.



Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas pays homage to the new Empress and Emperor of San Francisco, Misty Blue and J.P. Soto

 Starting a new tradition Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas paid homage to the new monarchs of San Francisco by kissing their hand. Musical interludes during the ceremony were provided by Robert Sunshine and his group that the Widow referred to as the Raindrops and the Gay and Lesbian Freedom Band, whose uniforms were provided by the results of Jose’s fundraising.



San Francisco’s new monarchs, Emperor J. P. Soto and Empress Misty Blue place the first red rose on the tombstone of Jose Sarria.

 Those of you who are already saying I don’t want to miss this event next year can  mark your calendars for the February 14 weekend. Coronation will take place Saturday, February 14, 2015 in the City Hall Rotunda and the Annual Pilgrimage to Colma will take place February 15.



Reigning Empress Misty Blue and Reigning Emperor J. P. Soto take the front seat of honor on the bus that took them from SF to Colma and back.



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