How loud is a string of fireworks on Lunar New Year?

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The noise level of an average firecracker reaches 130 decibels at five or six yards. By comparison, that's the equivalent of an airliner taking off from fifty feet away. (Wayne Freedman/KGO-TV)

Thanks to the Internet, any of us can sound like a genius. Or at least a Jeopardy champion.

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All you need is an inquisitive mind and an index finger.

So, don't be too impressed at how I know that the noise level of an average firecracker reaches 130 decibels at five or six yards. By comparison, that's the equivalent of an airliner taking off from fifty feet away.

A loud one.

As for a string of fireworks outside San Francisco's Portsmouth Square on Lunar New Year?

Anyone's guess.



"We actually thought they were gunshots! We ran into a store," confessed Taisa Pool, a tourist.

"We're from Idaho," added her friend Kylee Clark. "Gung chaw Fow Hoy!" she attempted.

"Or, is it Kung gau? Oh man..."

"You mean Gung Hay Fat Choy?" I asked?

"Is that Cantonese?"

"You are correct," I said.

"How did you know that?" she countered.

"Learned it on the Internet."

That would be just one, delicious slice of the delirious lunacy, this morning, as onlookers cheered the debut of a 288-foot, 44-person dragon.

"It's brand new out of the box," Al Jang told us.

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"They come in boxes?"

"Yes," Jang explained. "We assemble it."



Is there any liability or concern with a new dragon?"

"No," said Jang, who serves up front.

"How does that work? What is it like being the head?"

"I go, they follow," said Jang, who retired, recently from the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.

"Are there backseat drivers in a dragon?"

"Oh, sure."

"What do they say?"

"Go slower."

Such are typical conversations when celebrating the first Year of The Dog since 2006. That long string of fireworks put an end to all of them, once former Mayor Willie Brown officiated the lighting. He's a veteran of this event.

"What you do is have a partner and let him light the damn thing and then take off when lighting it," he joked.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said an old San Francisco law allowing fireworks for the holiday has been on the books for decades.

"It allows fireworks on Chinese New Year," he said. "But, it's a little dangerous."

130 decibels worth.

My ears are still ringing.

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