Vancouver’s Chinatown parade sees record crowd The overseas Chinese community seems to really care about Chinese New Year and I felt a sense of community here.”
An estimated 100,000 spectators and 4,000 performers were on hand for the 42nd annual Vancouver Spring Festival Parade on Sunday, a record-breaking turnout, organizers said.
Attendance at the parade increased from last year’s 80,000 visitors and was double the average of 50,000 visitors of previous years.
Zhu Zhanlun, chief organizer of the parade, said the event’s growth was mainly due to word of mouth locally, though marketing and support from the Vancouver municipal government also helped.
The 2015 Spring Festival, also known as the Lunar Year of the Ram, began on Feb. 19. The Lunar New Year is celebrated annually in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown with traditional dragon dances, food booths and cultural exhibits.
This year’s 1.3 kilometerlong parade featured shadow puppets and martial arts performers from China, as well as waist drumming, ribbon dances and multicultural performances by members of the local community.
The event “has gotten more recognition from the mainstream community in Vancouver, and they appreciate its long history and the rich culture on display”, Zhu said.
Participant Eileen Chen said it was the biggest Chinese New Year celebration she had seen since she came to Canada four years ago.
It “felt even more festive than in China,” Chen said. “The overseas Chinese community seems to really care about Chinese New Year and I felt a sense of community here.”
Along the parade route, live sheep posed for photographs with visitors in front of Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Gardens. After the parade, lion dancers paid visits to shops and businesses in Chinatown to dance for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.
As part of the ritual, the lions would “eat” the lettuce and red packets of money that businesses hung above their doors, then scatter the leaves to spread the good fortune.
Zhu said he wanted to preserve this custom, which is disappearing in parts of China, “because it is believed that prosperous businesses in a community bring prosperity to the whole.”
Groups making their debut appearances in this year’s parade included the Sikh Motorcycle Club and the Shaolin Martial Arts Academy from Dengfeng.
Emma Krizek, a Vancouver native and first-time visitor to the parade, was impressed by the amount of festivity.
“The parade went on a lot longer than I thought, with red envelopes and loud firecrackers that really added to the festiveness,” she said.
Organizers also hope that this year’s momentum will lead to an even bigger parade next year.
A temple fair was also held on Sunday at the Chinese Gardens. A culture fair featuring lion dances, martial arts demonstrations and other performances took place on Saturday and Sunday.
The Year of the Ram, also known as the Year of the Sheep or Goat, symbolizes peace and tranquility. The 2015 Lunar Year also corresponds to the element of Wood, which symbolizes renewal and growth.
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark