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.”

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By HATTY LIU in Van­cou­ver for China Daily

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.

JACKY WU / FOR CHINA DAILY

Bri­tish Columbia Pre­mier Christy Clark

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