Chinatown’s New Year Parade
February 11th, 2010Filed under: Exhibitions
This Sunday, you can see one of Chicago’s best parades, the event that marks the beginning of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
New Year is the biggest holiday for the Chinese American community, who gather for private celebrations and gift giving. Frequently the gifts come in the form of money enclosed inside hóng bāo, or red envelopes, most often given to younger family members.
On Chinese New Year people settle debts, clean house, and mend relationships, in order to start over fresh. According to Chicago resident LaVerne Chan, “Chinese New Year is important because it’s the beginning of a new beginning. The past is past, and you take care of whatever, and let it go. Your debts, whatever, hard feelings, whatever, and you start anew.”
The parade usually takes place in January or February each year. Although that typically means it’s cold out, it’s always a lot of fun, especially for kids. The Lion dancers, parade dragon, floats, and music all make for a great time.
Images from the 2009 Chinese New Year parade heading north along Wentworth Avenue thru the heart of Chinatown. Videography by John Paterson, Exhibit Media, Inc., Chicago
Take the Red Line ‘L’ to the Chinatown stop an hour or so before the parade begins. Stop in for a quick sampling of Dim Sum at one of the many great restaurants in the neighborhood or drop in to one of the bakeries for some Chinese buns and a hot coffee or tea, and then find a good spot along the parade route. You might also want to pick up a box of poppers (mild, kid-friendly fireworks) to make your presence known during the celebration. And be ready to wish everyone you see, “Gung Hay Fat Choy!” or “Happy New Year!” Yeah, it’s pronounced just like it looks.
This year’s parade kicks off at 1:00 p.m. this Sunday, February 14, and marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. The parade moves north up Wentworth Avenue from 24th street until it reaches Cermak Road (22nd Street).
I’ll see you there.
Learn more about Chinatown traditions in the My Chinatown exhibition, the Museum’s first multimedia theater experience, now open.