Chinese New Year parade kicks off in SF

February 8, 2009 12:44:07 PM PST
Tens of thousands of people jammed San Francisco streets Saturday night to see the city's annual Chinese New Year parade.

This year the parade featured the longest golden dragon in its history.

The parade is very important to the city and the Chinese culture. It is also a lot of fun.

Surprises popped out throughout the parade, known as the largest Chinese New Year parade outside of Asia.

Even though the floats, royalty and colors were all so beautiful to look at, many visitors came with one attraction on their mind.

"I'm looking forward to seeing the dragon!" said Dante Poli.

"I'm looking forward to see the dragon. I really like the dragon. It's the funnest part of the whole parade," agreed Owen Osler.

And, did they ever get an eyeful.

At 238 feet this year's dragon was the largest in parade history. It was made in Hong Kong and took two teams of 42 dancers to carry it. This old tradition got a modern touch. The dragon is "green," using environmentally-friendly light bulbs.

It was the largest dragon but it was not the only one. Dragons kept the parade going with one winding its way down the street every few minutes, each one bursting with energy.

Those who carry them say it is actually a very choreographed routine.

"If one person's off it doesn't really work, so everyone has to be exactly on tune. They have to be going at the exact same time. Everyone's running. Everyone's giving 110 percent. It's amazing," explained Matthew Wong.

The dragons may have drawn the "oohs" and "ahhs," but it was the ox that was the official star of the show.

"My daughter and I we're just celebrating the year of the ox because we were both born in the year of the ox. We're really having a good time out here," said Harry Lau of Danville.

The parade was long.

It took about two and half hours before the final performers even started marching. It lasted later than some of the audience members' bedtimes. But, those who lasted till the end had no complaints.

"It was absolutely fabulous. We enjoyed it. I look forward to it every year," said Richmond resident Janet Marie Walker.

As for famous people born in the year of the ox, President Obama, Walt Disney and Meryl Streep are on the list. Those people are said to be solid and dependable with a strong work ethic.

San Francisco Police say the parade was a peaceful one. No major problems were reported.