My Earliest Memory of the CNY Parade

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Chinese Dragon Dance, Chinatown, San Francisco, California postcard. CHSA Collection.

My Earliest Memory of the CNY Parade

by Pam Wong

My earliest memory of the Chinese New Year parade was when I was in elementary school. My grandparents had an apartment in San Francisco’s Chinatown just half a block from Kearny Street, along the Chinese New Year Parade path. The window of the apartment didn’t provide a clear view of the parade route so my family and I carried chairs and stools from the apartment and brought them out to the street. We had front row seats to watch the parade!

Sitting and watching the parade with thousands of others was so exciting. The crowds would cheer and point at the different groups. I remember being dazzled by the floats, the talented musicians of the St. Mary’s School Drum & Bell Corps & Drill Team and the thunderous drumming of the Lion Dance teams. The big finale of the parade was the sight of the dragon and the endless firecrackers at the end. I wondered what it took to be part of the parade and how I could one day be involved. 

When I became an adult, I met friends who were part of the parade. They were security guards, drivers of politicians, teachers who lead school groups, musicians and dancers. They all played an important part of the parade but those were not roles that I wanted. I wanted to be part of the teams that decorated and built the Chinese New Year Parade floats. Working in the SF Chinatown community, I’m meeting more and more people who are involved in the Chinese New Year Parade. I believe I’m getting closer and closer to fulfilling my dreams of working on a float.

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