The Golden Dragon Parade and Festival rolls through Chinatown in Los Angeles every Lunar New Year, marking the beginning of the year on the Chinese calendar. The event is attended by more than 100,000 people and watched live via telecast by thousands more. The Chinese New Year Parade has been celebrated in Los Angeles for decades and continues to get bigger each year, adding more floats, attractions and performances.
The Golden Dragon Parade features more than two dozen floats, several marching bands, hundreds of costumed revelers and countless exploding firecrackers. Local Chinese government officials, celebrities, business owners and cultural groups take part in the parade; the event draws locals and tourists alike. Large segmented dragons are operated by dancers, who train for months in order to make them jump and writhe in time to the music with life-like motions. Local vendors line the route selling traditional Chinese food, gifts and trinkets. Other Los Angeles ethnic community groups, such as Scottish bagpipers, often join the parade, giving it a true multicultural feel.
In 1898, the Chinese community of Los Angeles began participating in the annual City of Los Angeles Parade with traditional dragon processions. By the 1950s, the Chinese New Year Parade had become a staple of the city's cultural calendar and was used as a fund-raising drive to gather support for various Chinese cultural institutions from local businesses. The dragon dancers actually would stop along the parade route, visiting every business and solicit funds. Since then the parade has blossomed into a weekend-long festival and has featured several celebrity grand marshals, including Bruce Lee, Hugh Hefner and David Carradine.
The parade begins at Hill and Yale streets and heads north to Bernard Street. At Bernard, the parade turns right for one block and then makes another right onto North Broadway. The bulk of spectators and vendors line North Broadway and the procession slowly makes its way all the way down to Cesar Chavez Avenue, where the parade ends.
The Chinese New Year Parade is held on a Saturday in late January or early February, depending on when the actual lunar calendar ends and begins. The area is closed to vehicular traffic, but several area parking lots are available. The area is served by the Metro transit system. Union Station, an important train and transit hub, is just a few blocks away.
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