Connecting with my Roots and CommunityBy Shannon Hamid
I first started volunteering in 2016 because of my then-friend (now husband!) Justin Chu. I never heard or knew about the Chinese New Year Parade before, but I had a requirement of completing 1 community service per semester for my school organization so I and seven other friends agreed to do it. Little did we know, it was such a fun experience to be part of the parade and walk with all the floats, bands, and groups. I remember I was in charge of the elementary kids and their performance was the CUTEST thing in the whole parade. They had no idea what was going on but just kept performing. I documented the whole day on my social media and I got a lot of responses from our friends about how fun it looked! The firecrackers at the end are my favorite!
Fast forward a year later, Justin posted the opportunity on our group page to volunteer again and we got more interest than the first time. We’re able to recruit twice the amount of volunteers in 2017 (some veterans too) and everyone had a great time and some agreed to do it again the following year. In my third year, 2018, we’re able to recruit over 30 Parade Marshals to volunteer! We definitely took over Section A… though my legs and voice were giving up, it felt amazing to be able to volunteer with a group of friends.
There are definitely times where I told Justin I did not want to do it because it’s my Saturday and it’s freezing cold that time of the year! I almost didn’t join in 2019 but it was the year of the Pig (my zodiac) so I definitely couldn’t miss that one.
I keep coming back every year – and then I realized, volunteering for the CNY Parade has become a routine activity and is no longer a requirement. I enjoyed connecting with our Chinese roots and community and partaking in an annual event that a lot of people anticipate. We’ve built connections and made friends throughout these years and loved being a part of something bigger, and it’s definitely cool to be walking around with the vest and all-access badge. We loved the energy from all the participants, the crowd, and definitely from the teams that organize the whole event parade.
2020 was the last year Justin and I volunteered before the world shut down and we left San Francisco not too long after. I definitely miss the event and hopefully one day we can return to the Bay and be a part of the team again!
Interested in volunteering? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org