San Francisco Rings in the Year of the Rabbit

Colorful parade floats and dragons delighted parade goers. PHOTOS BY LEILA TSELNER/SF FOGHORN

Rain or shine, San Francisco shows up for its celebrations. The streets of Union Square bustled with people last Saturday, as they marveled at flying dragons, dance performances, and marching bands at the 2023 Lunar New Year Parade.

With people walking down Market Street twirling Chinese fans, popping firecrackers, and cheering in harmony — the celebration was in full swing. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, an animal which is said to represent “elegance, peace, and a dash of luck.” San Francisco started hosting the parade back in 1860, and it has grown into the largest Lunar New Year festival outside of Asia.

The city’s 28-foot-long Golden Dragon, directed by more than 100 people, bobbed and weaved down the street. Vibrant hues of gold and cherry red gleamed in the air, grabbing the attention of thousands of spectators. Between gasps of excitement, people reached out and touched the dragon’s tails for good luck. 

A cloud shaped float decorated with rabbits and shades of baby blue, yellow, and purple carried people dancing to music ranging from Beyoncé, to the harmonic tunes of traditional Chinese music. 

USF’s marching band participated in the parade and marched down the street, instruments shimmering with raindrops. They played pop classics like “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance.”

Brooke Vo, a first-year psychology major, felt proud to march in the parade as she remembered attending similar events with her family in her childhood. “My grandparents would take me to Lunar New Year celebrations and we would watch from the sidelines,” she said. “It was great that the band acknowledged the Lunar New Year and celebrated with us.”

Children from Gordon J. Lau Elementary School dressed in bunny ears, face paint, and rain ponchos marched through the streets. The children, grinning ear to ear, looked in wonder as they saw their community cheering for them.

The parade was filled with classic Lunar celebration festivities like the Chinese acrobats in the parade and the lion dancers to the hand-crafted dragon floats, everyone had something to look forward to. 

Due to the recent shootings in California, the parade had a large police presence, fulfilling a promise SFPD Assistant Police Chief David Lazar made last month.

Bella Lira, a second-year marketing major, said, “Especially in recent events — I feel grateful to show my support to the community.”


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