New Year’s Day Parade in Chinatown Part 1

Yes, I finally found another parade.  It’s been a while.

I left late for the 1pm parade and knew it would be tough getting a good viewing spot.  Chinatown’s tiny little streets and people’s fascination with dragon dancing and the like meant I wasn’t going to find a nice vantage point.

When I got there, here’s my initial viewpoint of the parade.

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I was at the corner of Bayard and Mott Streets, right where the reviewing stand was.  That meant a great place, but lousy positioning on my part.  First, I was way too far away and, second, I was across the street from the reviewing stand which meant that the paraders were facing them, not me.

But Famous Ankles has his ways.  Over time, I got a lot closer as you’ll see from the pictures’ varying vantage points.  Last year when I came to the parade, I discovered that no one manuevers the crowds better than older Asian women.  I simply started following a couple of them and ended up getting much closer.  A corrollary to that fact:  don’t get in their way.  (Perhaps the high moment of the parade was when the crowd parted to let an angry and screaming Asian woman through without impeding her in the least.  It then instantly closed up around behind her.)

The parade itself isn’t one of the impressive ones that NYC can generate.  Instead, it has a much “homier” feel despite the fact that there are a lot of politicians and a lot of sponsors to the event.  The one item that you can’t ignore in a Chinatown parade is the confetti.  It’s everywhere.  Near the reviewing stand, they had some fan-like devices that occasionally would shoot it into the air.

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It didn’t happen all that often, but it did thrill the crowd when it went off.

Usually, the confetti was sent out by people in the parade using a variety of handheld launchers.  The fact that it was a windy, windy day meant it was terrific.  I don’t think there was a moment that the sky wasn’t filled with the stuff.  It doesn’t come out too well in the photos, but here’s a taste.

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It was wonderful.  And at times a bit disconcerting.  Sometimes the confetti was more in the form of streamers and you’d find two and three foot strands floating down.  At one point, some fell around my neck and I was getting ready to pull it off when it tightened on my neck (not particularly tight, but noticable).  I couldn’t figure it out, but it turns out the guy behind me was draping it and some other around his own neck and he was pulling mine in a way that it pulled at my throat.  No, I wasn’t almost throttled or anything.  Just one of those moments that you don’t expect.

The place was jammed.  It was beyond jammed.  It was one of those NYC crowds that, at times, you can’t even move your arms.  Just a sea of humanity with each and every one of us trying to get just a slightly better view.

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In the above picture, you may notice the guy has a cigarette.  It just seemed so out of place.  But later in the parade, of all things, some guy next to me started smoking on a pipe.  I haven’t seen that in years.

The parade itself lasted a little around 90 minutes or so.  There were a number of floats.

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There was the occasional odd character.  The bearded guy in a dress showed up, but this time his outfit was definitely Chinese in character.  (No picture this time as I only caught a quick glimpse of him.)

About midway through the parade, the crowding became extreme.  And not in a good way.  I don’t know what was going on although I saw a larger than usual stream of people behind me at one point.  Nevertheless, the press of the crowd more than doubled.  It was to the point that I couldn’t push back with more than a little and I was almost being forced off my feet from the swell of the crowd.  The cops started shouting out for people to move back and not to press forward.  But they weren’t anywhere near me.  In fact, I wasn’t sure what the meant by “back” at that point.  I had to re-plant my feet at least three times as I was pressed into the people in front of me.  After a few minutes, the pressing lessened significantly…and I pushed forward to a better spot than I had before.

So, the parade had three things of interest to me:  the crowds, the confetti, and the dragon dancing.  This post hasn’t had any of the dragon pictures.

That’s for another post.

-H

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Explore posts in the same categories: Chinatown, Events, Parades

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