Enjoying Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco

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San Francisco has a strong presence of Chinese migrants and the city celebrates Chinese New Year with gusto. It has always been my desire to experience how it feels to celebrate Chinese New Year in San Francisco. Time is running out for me and I’ve already booked last minute flights to San Francisco. I’ll be taking Air China flights from Beijing in a couple of days and am excited to reach San Francisco to participate in the famed Chinese New Year Parade which takes place on February 23, 2013.

Chinese New Year is a two-week spring festival being celebrated in China for over 5,000 years now. The Chinese New Year celebration in San Francisco has its origin in the 1860s during the Gold Rush day. This has now become the largest Asian event in North America as well as the largest general market event in North California.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year celebration includes two major fairs – Chinese New Year Flower Fair and Chinatown Community Street Fair. The festivities finally culminate with the grand Chinese New Year Parade.

The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is billed as one of the world’s top ten parades. It is the largest celebration of its kind outside of Asia. Over 100 floats and specialty units would participate in the parade, with most of them featuring the theme of this year’s Chinese zodiac sign. I am just waiting for the day when I’ll get to see gorgeous floats, ferocious lions, elaborate costumes and exploding firecrackers. Such a lunar New Year parade is nowhere seen in the world as it is in San Francisco. The major highlights of the parade include elaborately decorated floats, martial arts group, school marching bands, lion dancers, stilt walkers, Chinese acrobatics, the Golden Dragon and the newly crowned Miss Chinatown USA.

It would be an amazing sight to see over 201-feet-long Golden Dragon being featured at the end of the parade. The grand finale would be accompanied by over 600,000 firecrackers.

The San Francisco Chinese New Year kicks off with the Chinese New Year Flower Fair, which takes place each year the weekend before the lunar New Year holiday. This provides an opportunity to the families to visit here and buy their traditional holiday plants, fruits and flowers while enjoying traditional Chinese dance, music, art and cultural displays.

I am eager to immerse myself in the sights and sounds of Chinatown when I visit the Chinatown Community Street Fair. Here one can experience Chinese cultural arts such as lantern and kite making, calligraphy, fine arts demonstrations, folk dance, and puppet shows.

Photo credit: Robert Raines

Dawn Richard is an associate editor with Farebuzz.com.

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