Chinese New Year festivities kickoff
January 29, 2009 11:13 PM
On Jan. 24, Mayor Gavin Newsom joined in a very symbolic ribbon cutting ceremony where the eyes of a Golden Dragon were dotted, kicking-off the Chinese New Year celebrations and marking the beginning of the year of the Ox, Lunar year 4707.
Karen Eng, spokeswoman of the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade said, the ceremony was very representative of changes in the community.
The dragon's eyes were dotted by the newly elected SF Board of Supervisors; President David Chiu (the first Chinese-American to be elected to be president of the board of supervisors), Supervisor Eric Mar and Supervisor Carmen Chu.
Reverend Norman Fong, master of ceremonies, recalls the event as being very symbolic.
"We've come a long way and one of the supervisors, David Chiu, is President of the SF's Board of Supervisors. It's history," Fong said.
Following this symbolic event, the New Year's Flower Market Fair was in full effect. People gathered to buy flowers, plants and food for the New Year. Plants in the house represent rebirth and growth. While foods like tangerines and oranges are symbols of abundant happiness.
The Chinese New Year began on Jan. 26. Eng says that traditions before the New Year include a hair cut and a clean house. It is encouraged to pay debts and wear red on New Years day for good luck.
The celebration lasts for two weeks bringing with it plenty of festivities still to come.
A daily carnival began on Jan. 23 at the Walter U. Lum Place, located at Washington and Clay Streets. The carnival will cater to children and to the young at heart all the way through Feb. 8.
On Jan. 31, teams from San Francisco middle schools and from Asian-American communities will participate in a Chinese New Year Basketball Jamboree. There will be six games throughout the day.
The Miss Chinatown U.S.A. pageant has events scheduled as well. The pageant is being held on Jan. 31. The event is sold out, but spectators can still see Miss Chinatown and her court get crowned at the coronation ball, which takes place on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. This event is $120 and includes dinner and dancing until midnight. It is a black tie event.
Still, there is one other great event to catch a peek at the newly crowned Miss Chinatown and that is at the parade. The Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year's Parade has been rated on of the top 10 parades in the country, one of the few illuminated night parades and the largest one outside Asia.
There will be groups of children dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, stilt walkers, colorful floats, thousands of firecrackers exploding and a brand new Golden Dragon, now 238 feet long.
"This year, the Golden Dragon will be at the beginning of the parade," said Eng. The dragon used to be 201 feet long.
Fong is excited about the parade, but is mostly excited about what it brings to the community.
"Of course I volunteer to emcee the street fairs & the parade so I enjoy both," said Fong. "But the smiles on the faces of the kids & seniors of Chinatown are priceless."
Bleacher seats for the parade can be purchased at the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Parade Web site.
Even more Chinese New Year events in San Francisco:
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