A return of the Chinese New Year Parade means a return of the tiger spirit

jennifer bedoya yn4rrB8cLIQ unsplash
jennifer bedoya yn4rrB8cLIQ unsplash

A return of the Chinese New Year Parade means a return of the tiger spirit

By Alaska Airlines

Many Asian Americans and allies hope the Year of the Tiger will resemble more resilience than ever. 

“The year of the Tiger means prosperity and strength to me,” says Angel Li, duty manager for Alaska Airlines at San Francisco Airport (SFO). “As the Tiger is always looked (upon) as a guardian and a protector.”

San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade is back to celebrate the year of the Tiger, continuing its delightful tradition from the 1860s of heralding culture. The 2022 Alaska Airlines Chinese New Year Parade will be held on Feb. 19, 2022, with over 100 units participating. Li hopes Alaska’s parade float will represent peace, safety and love. 


“I want everyone who’s been hurt the last couple of years to heal,” she said. 

Asian American communities were shocked and hurt after multiple shootings in Atlanta targeted and killed several Asian American women. Shortly thereafter, many of the Asian American community at large surveyed said they felt scared of discrimination and violence. But others came to rise in solidarity with the community, with rallies and joint efforts. Alaska Air stood against hatred and is ensuring everyone feels safe. As such, 2022 feels like a great reset, especially in the context and care of the Covid-19 Crisis—when many folks felt afraid and alone, unable to safely gather with family and friends. 

“I now make this a time to truly connect with my family in China over video chat instead,” Li explains. “In a way, it has helped us all grow closer.”

And many are looking forward to celebrating again, while looking back at old traditions. Nicholas Mendiola, customer service agent at SFO, celebrates both Lunar and Solar New Years in the Chinese and Spanish traditions. His grandmother helped start the tradition of purging for the Lunar New Year: donating old items and cleaning the entire house. 

Mendiola says she also made dumplings and noodles to symbolize luck and a long life. His grandmother and older aunties would distribute red envelopes with crispy bills. There was also the tradition of lighting firecrackers in the garage. With a kung fu teacher for a dad, Mendiola would sometimes perform lion head dance (choy cheng) blessings at San Francisco’s Lunar New Year parade. It’s a joyful memory. 

“I love the sound of the drums and gongs,” he says. “Then after dinner, we would light off more fireworks. We loved it. So much fun!” 

It’s about hope, over harassment. Family, over fear. Love, over languishing. It’s about warmth, over worry. 

As for Li, she and her parents will continue their own Lunar New Year tradition: celebrating with a large steamed fish at home. 

The parade will also be livestreamed on February 19, 2022 on the Chinese New Year Festival and Parade Facebook page.