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Arts & Entertainment

Large crowd packs Chinatown for Chinese New Year parade, led by Awkwafina

Woman holds panda in lap while riding atop a red car driving in a parade
Actress Awkwafina serves as the grand marshal for San Francisco’s Chinese New Year parade on Saturday. | Source: Juliana Yamada for The Standard

A massive crowd showed up to celebrate the Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Saturday night as Hollywood actress and comedian Awkwafina led the annual parade to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

From Union Square to Chinatown, tourists and locals packed the sidewalks along the milelong parade route to watch the iconic celebration—one of North America’s largest and few remaining nighttime parades.

Organized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the century-old Chinatown tradition attracted over a hundred groups that made festive floats, including city departments, local nonprofits and companies.

This year’s parade may have had the largest turnout since the pandemic, with tickets selling out over two weeks ago. The parade was halted for a year in 2021 and returned in person in 2022 during the Omicron surge. Last year, rainy weather also hurt attendance.

Highlights of the parade this year included a brand new 300-foot dragon, which was imported from China and carried by dozens of dancers. Mayor London Breed and Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Wade Lai were expected to light the fireworks for the show’s finale.

A dancer in colorful attire performs at a street parade with onlookers and participants in traditional Asian costumes.
Lisa Performing Arts members run through their performance before the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco on Saturday. | Source: Juliana Yamada for The Standard

Among those in the crowd was Bill Lee, a former San Francisco city administrator who said he has been to the parade almost 40 times.

“This event brings all the different people together,” said Lee, who was watching the spectacle with his family. “And it’s good for local economy, both San Francisco and Chinatown, where we are still recovering from Covid.”