“Gung Hay Fat Choy” greetings fill the air as families and friends gather to celebrate the start of a new lunar year – the year of the snake. With that brings a San Francisco tradition – the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade. Beginning in the 1860s, the festivities have greatly grown over the years to include the Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Pageant and the Chinatown YMCA 10K/5K Walk to benefit youth and teen programs in Chinatown. The parade has come to attract over 3 million spectators and television viewers.
Growing up in San Francisco, it was a family tradition to attend the street fair and parade every year. As I got older, I was able to participate in the
parade, showcasing traditional Chinese dresses. Every year I looked forward to the hustle and bustle atmosphere of preparing for and participating in the grand night illuminated parade.
This year, 16 city blocks bordering Chinatown and the Financial District will be packed with over half a million people lining the streets to get a glimpse of the celebration. In Chinese mythology, firecrackers and the color red are thought to ward off evil spirits. As a result, 50,000 firecrackers will be set off to pave the way for over 100 units of decorated floats and live entertainment from groups all over California. Prepare to be amazed by the strength, coordination, and practice behind lion dancing, a form of traditional Chinese dance, as performers complete acrobatic stunts to the beat of the drums. Also, expect a high energy taiko drumming performance that always gets the crowd energized. In addition, a few elementary schools will be represented in the parade with colorful floats and costumes made by the students. There will be ribbon dancers, marching bands, folk dancers, stilt walkers, and Chinese acrobats as well.
Of course, you will not want to miss the grand finale – a 268 foot long Golden Dragon that takes over 100 people to carry!
WHEN: Saturday, February 23, 2013 5:15-8 p.m.
WHERE: Market and Second Street to Kearny and Jackson.
TICKETS: Free to stand. Please click here to purchase bleacher tickets.