The AAAYA NorCal 2011 Lunar New Year festivities began with lion dancing and other cultural activities at the SF Maritime Museum, continued with a delicious round of pre-parade dim sum at Yank Sing, and then moved on to the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.  Although weather discouraged less hardy souls, it was great to start the Year of the Hare with an energetic and enthusiastic exchange of ideas for the future among AAAYA members, family, and friends, including: David Hsiao ’84 TD, Jo Wem Goh, Samuel Yu ’86 SY, honorary AAAYA members Brooke Rosenzweig and Katherine Weber, three generations of AAAYA NorCal president Julie Wong’s family, and founding member and national AAAYA board member, Grant Din ’79 BR, doing a fine imitation of a CNN reporter signing off with the traditional Cantonese New Year greeting, “Gong Hay Fat Choy!” (video by Marc Robert Wong). Thanks to everyone who attended!



Some of the many San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park cultural activities at its Visitor Center (499 Jefferson Street, San Francisco) and adjoining Hyde Street Pier area included:

*  Chinese Lion Dance performance by Leung’s White Crane Dragon and Lion Dance Association

*  Grace Quan – a 43 foot replica of San Francisco Bay Chinese shrimp fishing junk

*  Craft activities – ink block prints, paper origami

*  “Fish Tails and Tales” presentation of stories of Chinese American history by author Irene Dea Collier

*  Traditional Cantonese folk music concert by vocalist Wilma Pang & Chinese Instrumental Ensemble


The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco for 2011 (Year of the Rabbit) sponsored by Southwest Airlines was attended by an estimated 1 million spectators on February 19 to celebrate this city tradition dating back more than 150 years to 1858.  The two and a half hour parade had about 5,000 colorful participants (1,500 of which were kids) and over 100 units including 26 lighted floats, marching bands, high school and college drill teams, dance troupes, costumed elementary school groups, martial arts groups and more.

Some of the many interesting participants included:
*   201 foot long illuminated Golden Dragon “Gum Lung” carried by a 100 person team of Leung’s White Crane dancers.  This dragon is reputedly the largest dragon outside of Asia.  The dragon is a symbol of courage & prosperity with eyes of rabbit, ears of cow, antlers of deer, mouth of camel, whiskers of catfish,  body of a serpent, paws of the tiger, talons of an eagle, and scales of a carp.

*  Barney the red and black fire breathing (steam) dragon (San Gabriel Valley Chinese Cultural Association)

*  Red and gold dragon chasing silver pearl of wisdom with two rotating teams of 35 (Mills HS, Millbrae)

*  Stilt walkers representing Journey to the West folk tale characters (West Portal HS, San Francisco)

*  3 person high tower with the top person doing a handstand on top of the 2nd person plus a dancer simultaneously twirling many metal hoops from head to toe (Guangdong Art Troupe, China)

*  2 guardian generals Quanli Yan (Thousand Miles Eye – see 1000 miles) with a red face and two horns plus Shunfeng Er (With the Wind Ear – hear anything) with a green face and one horn from Ma Tsu Temple, San Francisco

*  3 lucky immortals / star gods:  Fuk – god of blessings, Luk – god of prosperity, Sau – god of longevity (Sing Tao media)

*  White rabbit ear headpieces with LED lights wielding carrot shaped nunchaku (Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy, San Francisco)

*  Synchronized blue and green recycling bins  (Recology garbage collection precision drill team)

*  Purple and blue fan and ribbon dancers with silk ribbons up to 12 feet long in green, blue and gold.  According to legend ribbon dancing evolved from a Chinese celebration of Hsiang Po who saved the Chinese emperor during the Han dynasty from assassination by blocking the attacker’s sword with the silk of his sleeve. (West Portal Elementary School, San Francisco)

*  Red envelope costumes waving flowers and blue fan dancers (Alamo Elementary Chinese School, San Francisco).  During the Lunar New Year red envelopes / red packets (lai see in Cantonese or hong bao in Mandarin) with red symbolizing good luck are typically monetary gifts given by the married to the unmarried with the amount usually ending in an even digit but not with the number four in the amount.

*  8 dancing Southern (fierce cat) style lions (Loong Mah Sing See Wui “Dragon Horse Lion Dance Team”, San Francisco).  In contrast Northern style lions resemble a shaggy dog.  80 foot long dragon carried by all female team plus a remote control baby lion.

* San Francisco Police Department lion dance team

* Lucky Ricebowls (Galileo HS dragon boat team, San Francisco).

*  8 Immortals – symbolizing prosperity and longevity: He Xian Gu (immortal woman), Cao Go Jou (royal uncle), Tie Guai Li (iron-crutch), Lan Caihe, Lu Dongbin (chief leader), Han Xiang Zi (philosopher), Zhang Guo Lao (elder), Zhongli Quan

*  12 Good Luck Proverbs on marching banners

*  San Francisco Giants with World Series Trophy & Lou Seal mascot

*  Musical selections varied widely from traditional march “On the Quarter Deck” by Kenneth Alford (California Aggie Marching Band-uh! of UC Davis) to “Bad Romance” by Lada Gaga (Archbishop Riordan HS marching band, San Francisco) to Melody of China ensemble.

*  The finale featured lion dancers (symbol of joy and happiness), acrobats climbing poles to unfurl scrolls wishing prosperity and happiness, a pyro team setting off an explosion 100,000 firecrackers to keep evil spirits away, and the illuminated Golden Dragon with Leung’s White Crane dancers.

The honorary marshal Frank H. Wu ( is a law professor and author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black & White which has became widely used in Asian American Studies classes.  Frank is also Chancellor & Dean UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco and one of only a handful of Asian American law school deans.  Some of the other dignitaries included San Francisco mayor & grand marshal (Ed Lee – first Chinese American mayor of San Francisco.  Asian Americans represented  31.4% of San Francisco county population, 12.7% of California and 4.6% of U.S. as of 2009), Oakland mayor (Jean Quan), and Cupertino mayor (Kris Wang), and Chinese Chamber of Commerce president (Kenny Tse).  Miss San Francisco Chinatown USA 2011 (June Quan) is studying law University of San Francisco.  Miss Chinatown USA 2010 (Crystal Lee) was crowned last year as a freshman from Stanford.

Another good collection of photos from the 2011 San Francisco Chinese New Year parade was found with the help of Google at