Rain doesn’t dampen the San Francisco Lunar New Year Parade

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Ritika Ghosh

San Francisco’s Lunar New Year parade kicked off the year of the rabbit with a rainy but exciting celebration.

On February 4th, San Francisco kicked off the Year of the Rabbit with its annual Lunar New Year Parade. This years celebration featured over 100 participants and countless marching bands – with a cold and rainy twist.

“We came because we wanted to be with our friends and family. I really liked all the colorful decorations and floats and I think even with the rain, it’s very lively. The rain didn’t stop me from coming all this way and to be honest, I was excited to see how the parade would go with all the rain,”  said Curran Shah, senior at Dougherty Valley High School.

Chinese new year is celebrated around the world in many house holds as well as through public festivals and parades. It’s a time to remove the bad and old, and welcome the new and good. The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce organized many events in addition to the Lunar New Year Parade, including the Chinatown USA pageant, Flower Market fair, and Basketball Jamboree.

“Over the years we’ve added events to celebrate Lunar New Year in the tradition held in China— celebrating New Year’s weeks long. These events bring hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to visit San Francisco. And they come to experience our traditions, culture, and food,” said Donald Luu, President of the SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

The parade give people a chance to experience different aspects of Chinese culture. (Ritika Ghosh)

To combat the weather, parade performers wore protective plastic rain gear on top of their colorful cultural attire. This community spirit could be seen in local residents and tourists alike. They all came together to celebrate despite the rain. 

“I actually live in San Francisco, so it’s really easy for us to come down and watch the parade. Honestly, it’s my first year watching the parade in person, but it’s super exciting. Everyone has a bunch of energy, so it makes me feel excited too, which is kinda what Chinese New Year is all about,” said Kelly Chao, High schooler and SF Resident.

Chao wasn’t the only one excited about the parade. An estimated 500,000 people attended this year, a record-breaking attendance since it first started in 1851. The parade is also one of the largest and oldest Lunar New Year celebrations outside of Asia.

“I think it’s important to watch the parade to experience other people’s cultures. I’m Chinese but I know there are a lot of non-Chinese residents and even nonresidents of San Francisco here. And it’s just cool to see other people showing up to watch something unique to my culture,” said Maggie Lee, a San Francisco resident.

Known as the most important festival in China, the Lunar New Year marks new beginnings and is now celebrated worldwide. San Francisco’s 2023 parade attracted countless people and the tradition carried on in spite of the less-than-ideal weather.

“The Lunar New Year parade has become the most significant cultural event in the region. Some would even say it is the biggest Lunar New Year Parade outside of Asia,” said Luu.