Chinese acrobats, firecrackers, and lion dancers are among the wonders to be seen during parades and festivals in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood this weekend as locals and visitors alike celebrate the dawn of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
While many visitors came for the massive Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday evening, the Chinese New Year Flower Fair and the Chinatown Community Street Fair will also be in full swing during the day on both Saturday and Sunday, according to event organizers. The parade features 90 attractions, with lots of red and gold because those colors symbolize wealth and good fortune in the Chinese culture.
Saturday's massive Chinese New Year Parade began at Market and Second streets at 5:15 p.m.
“I figured it was going to be a long day. So to get a spot, it was going to be three hours," said Anthony Milanes, who came all the way from Calexico, California to see the parade. "So we figured be smart, sit down, enjoy.”
Stilt walkers, decorated floats and a Golden Dragon, measuring 201 feet long and carried by 100 men and woman, are just some of the whimsical sights for the public to behold as the parade winds around Union Square before heading into the Chinatown neighborhood. Float builders are using hundreds of pounds of glitter and at least a couple of miles of decorative paper.
“Real excited because you can say hi to everyone and then you dance, singing,” said Emily Wen, who is in the parade with St. Mary's Chinese Day School.
The parade finishes around 8 p.m. near Kearny and Jackson streets.
To experience authentic Chinese cultural arts, such as lantern and kite making, visitors should head to the Chinatown Community Street Fair over the weekend, located on Grant Avenue between Clay Street and Broadway, as well as on Jackson Street and on Pacific Avenue near the intersection with Grant Avenue.
Traditional Chinese holiday plants, flowers and fruits will be available for sale at the Chinese New Year Flower Fair, which also is held on Grant Avenue between Clay Street and Broadway, as well as on Pacific Avenue between Kearny Street and Stockton Street on both Saturday and Sunday.
While many of the major Chinese New Year festivities in San Francisco are being held this weekend, the actual Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 19.
2015 will be the year of the ram. People born in those years are said to be tender, polite and kind-hearted.
A full list of festivities, many geared toward children, are available online at sanfranciscochinatown.com.