After decades without one, Oakland’s Chinatown hosted a Lunar New Year parade Sunday, bringing a much-needed dose of energy back to a struggling community still grappling with high-profile crimes since the pandemic.
Felicia Yu, Oakland chapter president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, said it’s heartbreaking that the Asian community had to face the gun violence and tragedies right before the festival, but it’s especially important to come out and support one another now.
“We have to keep up our good spirits,” Yu said. “As we are standing together, we are standing stronger.”
Newly elected Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, who’s Hmong American, attended the parade with state Assemblymember Evan Low and other local officials.
“We are celebrating a new year, obviously,” said Thao. “We are also celebrating a new way of building community with new leadership.”
It’s unclear when the last time Oakland held a Lunar New Year parade was, but according to sources familiar with Bay Area Chinese parades, Oakland had a Lunar New Year parade decades ago, which often happened a week before the iconic San Francisco parade.
At 11:40 a.m., the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council kicked off the event at the newly renamed Wilma Chan Park near the Lake Merritt BART Station with firecrackers, lion dancing and colorful floats. Parade participants toured around Chinatown, through Downtown, and then back to the park. The event ended at about 12:20 p.m.
Chan, a former Alameda County supervisor and a prominent Bay Area Asian American political leader, was killed in a traffic accident in 2021.
Thao said she’s committed to make this parade an annual event in Oakland and welcome more people to join and celebrate the city’s diversity in the future.
More photos from the event are below: