Skip to main content
Arts & Entertainment

Oakland Chinatown to host its first Lunar New Year parade in decades

Lion dancers lead off the entertainment at the Pacific Renaissance Plaza for the Oakland Chinatown StreetFest on Aug. 24, 2019. | Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

After waves of high-profile crimes against Asians in recent years, Oakland’s Chinatown hopes to bring back some positivity in the Year of the Rabbit with a Lunar New Year parade.

The Jan. 29 procession will be the city’s first in decades. The parade will start at 11 a.m. with floats and a procession circling around Chinatown. 

Way back when, Oakland’s Chinatown used to host a parade a week before San Francisco’s. But as those festivities grew to become an iconic event, Oakland’s went dormant.

It’s about time to refresh Oakland’s image and celebrate its Asian community, said Elaine Peng, who’s organizing the parade as vice president of the newly formed Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council.

“We want more people to know the history and culture of Oakland Chinatown, not just from negative news stories,” Peng said.

The poster for the revived Oakland Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade | Courtesy Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council

Since California passed a law in 2022 to formally recognize Lunar New Year, Peng said Oakland’s historic Chinatown should follow suit by reviving its traditional celebrations.

The Toishan Benevolent Association, a community group that leads public safety patrols in the neighborhood, is another organizer of the parade.

Organizers say the theme, “Oakland Is Changing,” reflects the city’s new direction and change of leadership. Mayor Sheng Thao, elected in a tight race last year and the second Asian American mayor in Oakland’s history, is expected to attend.

Peng said the event would also honor the late Alameda County supervisor Wilma Chan by starting and ending the route in the newly renamed Wilma Chan Park near the Lake Merritt BART Station. Chan was a trailblazing Chinese American woman in California politics who died unexpectedly in a traffic accident in 2021.

Oakland Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade

🗓️ Sunday, Jan. 29
🕔 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
📍810 Jackson St., Oakland, CA 94607
🔗 ocic-ca.org

Han Li can be reached at han@sfstandard.com