Tigers, lions, dragons, little kids, Star Wars, cable-car floats and firecrackers took over Kearny Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Saturday. Chinatown welcomed the Year of the Tiger with a parade of dancers, live music and fireworks, hosting the in-person Lunar New Year celebration for the first time since the pandemic hit.  

The last celebration had been held in Chinatown for the Year of the Rat on Feb. 8, 2020, a few weeks before California became the first state to order its residents to stay at home amidst rising COVID-19 cases.  

After having lived through two years of a pandemic and a sudden rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, thousands of people looked to welcome the new year with the parade — a marking of a fresh start and a sense of normalcy. 

The role of grand marshal was delegated to prominent actor and activist Daniel Wu, who was responsible for leading the parade, a role which he executed honorably. As the celebrations commenced, San Francisco police motorcycles preceded the two-and-a-half-hour long parade.  

Among the parade participants were the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Mayor London Breed, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the “We Are One” organization, the API Coalition, Bay Area Rapid Transit, marching bands from UC Davis and California Polytechnic State University, to name a few. 

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The Golden Dragon, also known as the “grand finale” of the parade, was 268 feet long and was carried by 100 men and women of Leung’s White Crane Dragon and Lion Dance Association.  

Commonly believed to be the “largest celebration of its kind in the world,” the parade has been hosted by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco since 1958. The celebrations, however, predate the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, as the Chinese community has shared the festivities with San Francisco since the 1860s.