Chinatown on Parade

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Bwog cultural correspondent Mariela Quintana heads to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year Parade.

Standing on the corner of Bayard and Mott yesterday afternoon, I could see Chinese and American flags flapped in the air.  Red and gold banners hung overhead.  Knots of people snaked through narrow streets.  Parents perched their kids precariously on their shoulders. Every other second the flash of a digital camera or a sparkler would ignite. The cracks of confetti poppers broke through the afternoon air and could be heard clearly despite the blaring music that seemed more appropriate for a European techno club than Chinese New Year. Seconds later, the sky was full of boldly colored confetti and curlicues of gold and silver ribbons.

A pair of Chinese boys had suited up in a black dragon costume and began doing acrobatic leaps.  In unison, they sprung into the air and then sunk to the ground heaving and twisting with snake-like movements.  The M.C. called to the crowd and the crowd called ba
ck with delight.  A group of boisterous twenty somethings started getting rowdy near me and attempts to crowd-surf were made.

After the Dragon act had taken their bow, the parade’s M.C. and a Chinese woman wearing enormous furry earmuffs, entered the stage. Speaking first in a accented English chirp and then transitioning quickly into Chinese, she introduced some “traditional musical Chinese entertainment” for the crowd’s entertainment.   A twangy tonal interlude began and soon a duet of middle age Chinese women began to sing a ballad titled, “China, I Love You.” I overheard a man whisper to his wife “They need our support up there.”   They began clapping their hands and cat-calling.

To be perfectly honest I usually find Chinatown overwhelming. The ducks hanging in the shop windows, the smell of too many bodies,  the multi-colored flashy lights of electronic gadgets—it’s sensory overload to be avoided at all costs. But the Chinese New Parade  was entirely different New York than I have ever experienced.  I gladly talked to strangers, I climbed over barricades, and I didn’t mind that a random old lady was using me as a balance support; all instances of the city-dweller’s usual M.O. of detached irony were suspended. 



  1. what do you call  

    2000 pounds of chinese food?

    One-ton soup!

  2. omg.  

    it's a LION. not a dragon. the Dragon is the long costume carried by several people holding long poles.

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