Luck, Health, and Reuniting with Familyby Laura Lopez
I’m honored to contribute to this year’s collection of stories for the 2021 Chinese New Year Festival & Parade. Although I recently retired in September 2020, I spent 36 years at my beloved Southwest Airlines working in our Marketing department. This is where I learned all about the beauty and tradition of this annual celebration in San Francisco. Not only is this a sponsorship, but this is also truly a partnership that has given us the opportunity to share an awesome experience with our Southwest co-hearts for many years.
From the beginning, I knew it would be fun, but I never imagined that I would love this event so much that I would make the annual trek to help and volunteer for the many opportunities I had. I found out just how important it is to be organized to man a booth, be a parade walker, an event organizer, and a sponsorship manager. I also had the privilege of working with local station employees in the Bay area where volunteers enthusiastically came out to support this annual event and take part in the parade where they proudly represented Southwest. We walked, viewed, and cheered with local spectators and visitors from afar.
Southwest has been a proud sponsor of the Chinese New Year Festival & Parade for 27 years, and the title sponsor for 18 of those years and I can tell you that it has been a thrill to take part in this event that so beautifully showcases the distinctive sights and colors of the Lunar New Year celebration. How fortunate I am to have made the annual trip to San Francisco for this fun-filled event, but this event also holds a very special place in my heart too, as I am part Chinese. My grandfather came to the United States from China and I’m also very fortunate to have two nieces that are adopted from China. As you can see, this celebration is very personal to me as I have come full circle with the joy of knowing the importance of my Asian heritage and that I was lucky to learn about and celebrate Chinese New Year with my grandparents when they were living, and today with my family. Side note… I grew up receiving the “red envelope” from my grandfather. I remember how excited and happy I felt when he handed me my envelope filled with future hopes and dreams… honestly, I always got a one-dollar bill… for prosperity! Ahh, the joy of being young and hopeful in the 60’s and 70’s! Who knew that in my adult years Southwest would bring me back to my roots and I would be celebrating with so many wonderful people? What a wonderful life it truly is.
While we all know that this year’s celebration will look different in 2021, we are thrilled to partner with the annual Southwest Chinese New Year Festival & Parade and celebrate the wonderful traditions that matter to so many. I know that we won’t get to experience in person the thrill of hearing the fireworks go off to kick off the event, see the lion and dragon dance, watch the brilliant traditional float designs go by, and enjoy all the colors of the breath-taking costumes, but I will celebrate from my home in Dallas and I’ll be thinking of you.
Before I close, I want to acknowledge and thank all the great folks I worked closely with over the years. Thank you, Peggy Kennedy (my personal rock star!), Dave Thomas and Stephanie Mufson, our incredible float builders, KTVU for being a great media partner, DAE Advertising Agency for helping us remain culturally relevant, and to all the organizers of the event. Your fine work, excellent planning, and superb job organizing all the meetings, brainstorming ideas, and so much more, has been instrumental in ensuring that everything ran smoothly and that Southwest is always well represented. Thank you to all for being well prepared and for making this annual event memorable and extraordinary.
Be safe and live well. Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Laura Lopez, Southwest Airlines Retiree