How We Celebrate: Chinese New Year

When I was a little girl, it was a special treat each year to watch on television the Chinese New Year’s parade in San Francisco. For the past few years, I have been itching to go see it in person, but have always come up with a lame excuse for why not to. This year, however, we had a guest visiting from out of town, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

I am so glad we went!

Should you ever visit in the future, here are five tips for how to maximize the adventure.


1. Park yourself at the end of the parade. It was a delight to watch the parade in general (and my favorite performers–the lion dancers–in particular) advancing toward us, framed by Columbus Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid. I am short, so usually have a hard time watching parades. But here, it was not too crowded. And, because Kearny is on an incline, even when crowds formed, I still had a perfect vantage point.


2. Walk through the neighborhood. Many of the streets in Chinatown were blocked off to traffic, allowing pedestrians free reign for revelry. I loved the festive atmosphere – all ages walking, mingling…


And, yes, setting off firecrackers.


Just be sure to watch your step!


3. If you get hungry, dinner at Z & Y is always a treat. Depending on when you arrive, you may be in for a long wait. But–especially if you are not shy when it comes to spicy food–it is definitely worth it!


And, should you require some egg tarts, Golden Gate Bakery was open late…


4. Explore the back alleyways. While waiting for dinner at Z & Y, I spotted an enchanting float from the parade gliding by as it returned home for the night. I followed after it and was rewarded with an up-close glimpse…


5. For $2 you can buy a lighter and a bundle of sparklers from one of the many stands lining the streets. I am usually not particularly brave when it comes to fire, but I could not resist the magic of holding one of these while strolling through the night.


Goodbye Chinatown, I hope to see you again soon. Happy New Year!

Categories: Ritual, Travel

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