Los Angeles Rings in the Chinese New Year

Thousands of pieces of pastel confetti and empty firecrackers lay strewn in the streets of Chinatown this weekend. February 20-21 was the Chinese Chamber of Commerce's 111th Golden Dragon Parade and Lunar New Year Festival. Even after 100 years, the event still remains popular. The Chamber estimated that over 100,000 onlookers and participants filled the streets.

"Having this many people is a blessing," said Andy Chang, the MC for the day. He said that the turnout was good despite the rain.

The Year of the Tiger gave way to many tiger-themed activities and performances. There were dancers in tiger costumes and a tiger statue accompanied by Miss Taiwanese-American on a parade float.

The Golden Parade wove its way up and down Broadway and Hill Street. The San Gabriel Valley Cultural Association performed the lion and dragon dance for which the group is famous. Joining them in the parade were the Shao Lin Temple Kung Fu School members demonstrating stylized choreography, sword work and martial arts.

The parade draws thousands of community members each year. This year, attendees included Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who promoted the weekend's festivities.

"It's good to have everyone come together from the community," said Van Duong of the UCLA Vietnamese Student Union.

Sunday morning kicked off the second day of the weekend's celebration, hosting vendors and performances in the parking lot at the corner of Broadway and Caesar Chavez Avenue.

The main event stage featured a Chinese youth chorus and college students doing traditional fan dancing. The weekend meant that many different groups within the Asian community were able to educate others about their culture.

"It helps everyone, even if they don't know a lot about [Chinese New Year], take a glimpse into what Asian culture is like," said Nicki Ung of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance.

Chang said that events like this one are important and should be kept running for as long as possible because it fosters a growing awareness of Asian American culture. "We're building a bridge between Asian and American culture," said Chang. "It's not done in one day but I think we're doing a good job here today."

Although this festival has ended, there are still more festivities to come.

On Saturday, Feb. 27 and Sunday, Feb. 28 Chinatown will continue their celebration of the New Year with the 32nd annual Firecracker Run, inviting families to partake in the country's largest New Year's running event.