Hundreds gather in San Francisco to ring in Lunar New Year

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ByChris Nguyen KGO logo
Friday, February 20, 2015
Hundreds gather in SF to ring in Lunar New Year
Fireworks, a parade, live animals, and hundreds of people helped to ring in the Lunar New Year in San Francisco's Chinatown.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Lunar New Year celebrations are around the world and right here in the Bay Area. Millions turned out in Hong Kong to welcome year 4713, Year of the Ram. That parade featured floats and dancers from around the world.

Hundreds gathered outside the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco's Chinatown to ring in the Lunar New Year and kick off two weeks of festivities.

"I loved it, I loved seeing all that activity," said Pleasant Hill resident Eva Chiccone. "Definitely inspired to go check it out. You get curious, you want to know."

To the beat of the drum, dozens of local performers ushered in the Year of the Ram, with some very special guests, including live animals to help usher out the Year of the Horse and usher in the Year of the Ram.

"We wish that this year, with the ram, will bring a lot of peace to the world and good health to everyone," said parade attendee Minh Hoa Ta.

Parade organizer Doris Grover added, "The live animal really signifies that we really believe. Instead of bringing just a stuffed animal, that this is what we worship."

PHOTOS: Lunar New Year celebrated in San Francisco

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was among those who attended Thursday's kick-off celebration.

"Thank you to the community for stepping out and being a part of our cultural celebration in this great city of ours," Lee said.

The Lunar New Year lasts for two weeks. For some, it's a chance to educate others.

The color red is a sign of good luck and prosperity.

"It means a lot to just renew, give thanks, have luck, pay respects to your elders, it's just the whole refresh of the New Year," said Jennifer Tokin.

Tokin recently moved to San Francisco. She came to Chinatown on Thursday for the very first time, stopping at R&G Lounge in search of the perfect meal.

"You eat noodles on Chinese New Year to give you luck throughout the year, and also to ensure that you have a long life," she said. "It's something that my mom told me to do, so I was doing that."

But the place was absolutely packed.

"We ended up going to a bakery," Tokin said. "We're just going to try finding another restaurant to go to."

The busyness was expected, considering San Francisco has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia.

"I bumped into several tourists at the hotel earlier and they were totally amazed, cause this is something they do not see in other states where they have smaller Asian communities," said San Francisco resident Betty Chen. "So I'm really glad they get to take part in this."

A community coming together to share the uniqueness of their city.

Thursday's event was just a mini parade to kick off the Lunar New Year. The big parade will take place in San Francisco in a few weeks on March 7.