S.F. Chinese New Year parade of dragons

Sunday, February 8, 2009

 

(02-07) 20:22 PST SAN FRANCISCO — Streets were so packed for Saturday night’s annual Chinese New Year Parade that Andrew Loukas had to use his grandson as a periscope.

“I can’t see anything,” said Loukas, who stood with his grandson George on his shoulders amid the throng at Powell and Geary streets.

“I can see dragon heads and fish,” George reported. “There’s weird people in weird hats in a car.”

“Thanks,” Grandpa said.

With tens of thousands of people lining the route, other viewers climbed on mailboxes, trashcans and Chronicle news boxes, while many peered out from department store and apartment building windows.

The full moon and clear skies drew the multitudes that stayed away from the soggy spectacles of years past. It was a perfect night to watch a dragon dance, a trumpeter trumpet and a beauty queen smile beatifically.

Aaron Gray of Hayward clung to a pole at the corner of Powell and Post streets.

chinese-new-year-parade-sf

“It’s hard on the fingers,” he said, but worth it for his first Chinese New Year Parade.

“I’ve seen lots of little dragons, and I’m waiting for the big dragon,” he said. He said he’d also seen a man that Gray identified as San Francisco’s district attorney, but he acknowledged he could have been mistaken when told that the city’s D.A. is a woman.

“Maybe it was somebody else,” he said. “Doesn’t matter.”

A lot of traffic was diverted, a lot of barricades were erected, and a lot of firecrackers enlivened the scene and deafened the eardrums.

There were dancers in red outfits twirling gold fans. There were dancers in red outfits twirling green parasols. There were dancing rice bowls, dancing trash cans and dancing oxen. There was no shortage of dancers, both in the parade and on the sidewalk.

Spectators were 15 deep, standing shoulder to shoulder and chest to chest.

A vendor on Post Street, Andy Stemen, was a bit bummed over slow sales of his $5 plastic trumpets, $8 blinking light wands and $3 cotton candy. The police wouldn’t let him into the crowds.

The centerpiece was the Hong Kong-born dragon, which at 238 feet long was the longest in parade history. More than 100 units were registered this year.

The parade – which ran for 15 blocks along Market, Geary, Powell, Post and Kearny streets – marked the climax of two weeks of celebrations for the Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Ox.

Parade organizers say the event, believed to date back to at least the 1860s, has become the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia. It certainly was the largest traffic jam in San Francisco all weekend.

 

More photos: See sfgate.com

E-mail Steve Rubenstein at srubenstein@sfchronicle.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: