San Francisco

Crowds Line San Francisco Streets for the Chinese New Year Parade

Despite the rain, people traveled from across the state and even across the country to ring in the Year of the Rabbit in San Francisco.

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San Francisco's annual Chinese New Year Parade took place Saturday evening in San Francisco, starting near Second and Market Streets and continuing through the city to Columbus Avenue, ending at Chinatown. People lined the streets despite rainy and at times windy weather to watch the more more than 100 groups in the parade.

The parade is billed as the largest Lunar New Year parade outside of Asia and is a highlight event of San Francisco's month-long Chinese New Year Festival. The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce President said Friday he expected this year's event will have record-breaking attendance.

Celebrations echoed across San Francisco Saturday as the parade traveled through the city, ringing in the Year of the Rabbit.

"I think it’s amazing! As a Chinese [person] I am really proud of my history,” said Sy George, who traveled with her mom from Sacramento to attend the parade.

"Finally people are going out and celebrating, it's gonna be a great year," George said, noting that this celebration feels like a departure from the subdued festivities during the pandemic.

Many people watching the parade were ready for the weather with rain jackets, ponchos, and umbrellas.

"The weather, we were concerned about it, but it turned out to be fantastic, it wouldn’t have stopped us anyways," said attendee Melanie Bonner. Bonner was visiting from North Carolina and said she planned her trip dates specifically so it could include seeing this parade.

The parade featured many marching bands, lion dances, rabbit decorations, floats, and elected officials driving along the route in cars. Actor Rich Ting served as the Grand Marshal of the Festival and Parade and was there as well.

Renato Alvarez, an exchange student from Ecuador living in California, attended the parade and noted what stood out to him was, "the amount of diversity in the parade as well and outside in the crowd, there’s just so many people of different backgrounds.” 

The Virgen family was decked in ponchos on the parade route, they had driven six hours to watch a relative perform in the parade. They agreed, the six hour drive was well worth it.

"This is the greatest parade outside of China, this is great, it's amazing," said Valentina Yan of Mountain View who watched the parade. Yan said she enjoyed watching the marching bands play and she was touched to see the dance performances by local children.

San Francisco Police Department said its officers were staffed all along the parade route. In fact, the department's leaders plus many officers and staff marched in the parade too. Assistant Chief of Police David Lazar told NBC Bay Area on Friday that more officers were assigned to the parade this year than in recent memory. A San Francisco Police spokesperson told NBC Bay Area Saturday night that there were no arrests in the city related to the parade.

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