Chinese New Year Parade: Final preps underway for San Francisco event

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- The countdown and final preparations are underway for the Chinese New Year Parade,  one of the largest New Year parades in the world.

This year's parade, which kicks off at 6 p.m. in San Francisco, will celebrate the Year of the Rooster and will feature 19 elaborate floats that will roll along Market Street through Union Square and into Chinatown.

The floats were all built inside a warehouse near AT&T Park. Workers were putting the finishing touches on the masterpieces in preparation for Saturday’s Chinese New Year Parade. 

Along with all the floats, this year's parade will also feature lion dancers, marching bands, and Chinese acrobats.

The parade, which is being put on by the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Southwest Airlines, will take over downtown starting at 5:15 p.m. at Second and Market streets, according to parade officials.

More than 100 groups will be featured in this year's parade, as they show off brightly colored floats, elaborate costumes, drums, lanterns, firecrackers and more. Additionally, attendees will get a chance to see the newly crowned Miss Chinatown U.S.A. and her court.

The Miss Chinatown U.S.A. Pageant, a celebration of pageant winners from other cities, was held last Saturday. The winner, Karen Yang of Sugar Land, Texas, will be crowned this evening at the Coronation Ball, which will be held at 6 p.m. at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel at 333 O'Farrell Street, organizers said.

Also one of the parade's highlights is a 268-inch Golden Dragon that will snake through the city, using a team of more than 100 men and women from the martial arts group White Crane.

The parade is a tradition in the city since the 1860s and was created not only to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year calendar, but also as a way to educate Bay Area residents about Chinese culture. The San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade is the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia, according to parade officials.

The parade will commence at Market and Second streets, then head west down Market Street and turning right onto Kearny Street, then west on Post Street to Powell, heading north on Powell Street to Sutter Street, then east on Sutter Street and back onto Kearny Street, and lastly onto Columbus Avenue, where the parade will then disperse.

Streets along the parade route will be closed beginning at 5 p.m. and will reopen a short while after the parade has passed and the route has been cleaned, parade officials said.

Work to construct the floats began three months ago when teams began designing and building the floats.

The event that we know today began as a humble affair in the 1950s as an offshoot of Chinese parades that started during World War II when residents would march down their neighborhood streets collecting donations. 

KTVU has broadcast the Chinese New Year parade since 1987, which has helped to lure corporate sponsorships and boost parade viewership.

Market Street between Second and Fremont Street and Second Street between Market and Mission streets will be closed at 4 p.m., in order to accommodate the parade's staging area.

Attendees are encouraged to arrive on BART, San Francisco Municipal Railway, Caltrain or other public transportation options, as heavy traffic and full parking garages are expected, according to parade officials.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

NOTE: You can watch this years Chinese New Year parade on KTVU on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 6 PM-8 PM and also on KTVU.com and Facebook.com/KTVU.

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