San Francisco Chinatown Community Fair

Happy New Year! Although this year Chinese New Year actually fell on February 3rd, San Francisco was still celebrating the new year weeks later.

The sun finally decided to come out for this celebration.

This past weekend San Francisco celebrated the Year of the Rabbit with its annual New Year Parade (Saturday night) and its Community Street Fair (Saturday and Sunday) in the perpetually-bustling Chinatown. Although on Saturday the Bay Area experienced nothing but rain, the sun thankfully decided to make an appearance in time for Sunday’s festivities. Chinatown was full of good weather and liveliness as the community, tourists, and San Francisco natives all came together and filled the streets of Chinatown.

McDonald’s just screams Happy New Year, doesn’t it?

The streets were adorned more than usual for the festivities with colorful banners and balloons in honor of this year’s animal, the Rabbit. Every block from Grant to Broadway was blockaded allowing pedestrians to roam freely to look at the many booths, which included companies handing out freebies, vendors selling New Year novelty items, and even a McDonald’s booth providing food to the hundreds of people who flooded the Chinatown area.

“Auspicious Pinwheels” for good fortune in the new year.

Towards the forefront of Chinatown, a live show broadcast was taking place where prizes were being given away to passersby. People dressed in costumes for picture-taking roamed throughout the streets. There were men playing traditional Chinese instruments on just about every corner. No matter where you went, you were bound to be entertained.

There were miniature versions of this being sold in a bunch of the booths.

One of the things that caught my attention was a loud drumming that resounded throughout the fair early in the morning. This very sound was so loud that it compelled me to try and find where it was coming from, and once I found the drumming’s origin, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this it was accompanying a rather flashy traditional Lion Dance on one of the side streets. There were two lions standing upon stilts to entertain the crowd of people huddled around to watch. According to the narrator, these particular lions had come all the way to the fair to deliver a special message to the children present at the parade.

The lion’s message to the children! All photography by the author.

Being a San Francisco native myself, this was actually my first time in Chinatown during any New Year celebrations. I couldn’t help but feel energized by all the liveliness around. Whether it was the tons of people who filled the streets or the vibrant colors and Chinese culture that surrounded me, the joy I got from taking part in such a fun cultural experience only made me love my city even more.

Janne Rivera
BARE Reporter

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