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Chinese New Year Parade

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Have you been to the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco?  They say it is one of the top 10 parades in the world!  I have been many times in my life and I assure you it is worth every effort to get there.  The floats, the bands, the children performing in Chinese costumes, Miss Chinatown, the Lion Dancers and the DRAGONS!  The colors are brilliant, the silks are beautiful… lights, music, dancing, and thousands of firecrackers.  All of your senses delight in the exuberance of welcoming in the Lunar New Year.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade began in the 1860’s, just after the Gold Rush, and has grown to be the single biggest Asian event outside of Asia.  In the early days, the Chinese that immigrated to San Francisco, wove their Lunar New Year traditions into a parade format, which was an entirely American way to celebrate.  Over the generations, the parade has grown beyond Chinatown and is beloved by millions of spectators.

This year the “plague of February” lifted from our house on Friday, so we were able to take our kids to the City for the weekend.  Now, you should know, we are parade people.  Joel and I will do just about anything to see a line of people marching down a street.  We’ve been to St. Patricks’s Day, St. Joseph’s Day, Easter, Gay Easter, Mardi Gras (all of these are New Orleans parades), Christmas lights & tractors, local Western parades, the Pine Grove 4th of July parade, and every single year, the Rose Parade.  The other thing you should understand is that my family history in San Francisco dates back to just about the time this parade began.  This was the first time I was able to share this experience (and history) with my children.


The Lion Dancers darting and jumping to the rhythms of the drummers.  We were kissed, licked and sniffed enough for a year of good luck!

Visa Float Parade

Mesmerizing floats

Gum Lung

Here is Gum Lung, the Golden Dragon, the star of the Chinese New Year Parade.  He is 220 feet long!
See the massive string of firecrackers that exploded just as he arrived?  That’s to keep him awake, because he sleeps the rest of the year.
The Dragon is always seeking wisdom, so is chasing the pearl throughout the Dragon Dance.
Gum Lung always ends the parade spectacularly!

This SF Gate article is a few years old, but has some really great information on the Chinese New Year celebrations.  Take a look at the pictures and video of the Dragon coming to life.  This celebration is a shining example of how far we’ve come in the past 150 years, and just how beautiful our diversity is.  Really, really try to make it to one of these parades.  Even better?  Bring the next generation!

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

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