I snapped this photo a couple of years ago as my daughter got up close and personal with a dancing lion at a Chinese New Year parade that snaked its way through Hilo, Hawaii. It’s tradition for parade-goers to feed little red envelopes stuffed with crisp one dollar bills into the lion’s mouth in order to receive a bit (or hopefully, a lot) of luck in the New Year.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Hawaii is a unique experience that will stay with you for a lifetime. While the 15-day celebration culminates on January 23rd, there is no shortage of family-friendly festivities taking place in the days proceeding the holiday throughout the Aloha State. For example, you can immerse yourself in the Chinese culture beginning January 20th in Honolulu’s Chinatown. From 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. the United Chinese Coalition is presenting its Chinese New Year Festival at Chinatown Cultural Plaza. The two-day event features dozens of food vendors offering a variety of Chinese and other Asian culinary favorites. In addition, you can explore special exhibits, such as feng shui presentations, Chinese fortune readings, martial arts demonstrations, along with authentic Chinese dancing and singing.
Of course, Hawaii is not the only place you can celebrate the Year of the Dragon. San Francisco also offers a plethora of parties and activities to commemorate the New Year. However, the popular California city is rocking their parade on February 11th. Beginning at Second and Market streets, the massive Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade features a variety of elaborate floats, dancing lions and dragons, bands and fireworks. The parade heads down Geary and Post streets before ending at Kearny at Columbus. The event is free, but for 30 bucks you can sit comfortably in reserved bleachers. If you go, don’t forget to bring your camera and jacket. The parade kicks off at 5:15 p.m. and temperatures drop once the sun goes down.