by Mallory Moad
Gung hay fat choy! It’s the Year of The Ram, and he was honored, curly horns and all, with his very own parade in Fresno’s Chinatown. The 15th Annual Fresno Chinatown Chinese New Year’s Parade was the second on my list of parades to see in 2015. Founded by Kathy Omachi, who also served as this year’s Grand Marshal, the first parade had a total of four floats. This year’s celebration consisted of 26 participants in the form of floats and groups. It has come a long way from its humble beginnings, don’t you think?
On Saturday, March 7, I staked out a spot in the sun on F street, looking forward to an event that is known for being a whirlwind of color and noise. The festivities began with a powerful, energetic performance from the drummers of Fresno Gumyo Taiko. For me, a huge fan of this ancient art form, this was the perfect way to get things started.
As always, kids were a prominent feature. The Lone Riders Bike Club was represented by boys and girls of all ages, greeting the crowd with smiles and waves as they wheeled by. Scouts from Cub Scout Pack 199 wore snappy uniforms for their appearance, and the crew aboard the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County float made an appropriate fashion statement with whimsical hats made from T-shirts knotted to resemble ram’s horns.
There was no shortage of dancers in this parade. Young performers from Folklorico Los Ninos Azteca thrilled the spectators with their intricate footwork and vibrant costumes. Men and women of Halau Hula I Ka La displayed grace and agility, and the women and girls from the Purposed II Praise School of Dance moved with joyful enthusiasm.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the dancing lions! The eagerly anticipated stars of the parade were portrayed by John Cho’s Lion Dancing Team. To the delight of the crowd (including yours truly), they strutted and pranced, shaking their elaborate red and gold heads and batting their eyes. Accompanied by Buddha, one lion made personal appearances at various businesses along the parade route. A barber shop, a bakery, and a men’s clothing store each received blessings for a prosperous year. As an added bonus, attendants used gongs, cymbals and firecrackers to chase away any pesky evil spirits that might be lurking about.
I predict that each parade I attend during the year will have a different “feel.” The Tower District Mardi Gras Parade was humorous and a little on the crazy side. While not lacking a sense of frivolity, The Fresno Chinatown Chinese New Year’s Parade was rooted in tradition. Both parades shared a wonderful sense of celebration. That’s why I love parades.
The next destination in this adventure is Clovis. I’ll be dusting off my cowboy hat for my first-ever visit to the Annual Clovis Rodeo Parade. You can read all about it here, pardner.