OAKLAND (KPIX) — Year of the Rooster celebrations in the Bay Area began with a bang Friday evening — a lot of bangs, in fact.

“Firecrackers are meant to ward off evil spirits to bring good luck,” Oakland community organizer Carl Chan explained.

The lunar new year officially begins with Saturday’s new moon.

Rooster marks the tenth year of a 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac signs and it is the only bird represented. Recent rooster years include 1981, 1993, 2005. The next comes in 2029.

Parts of Oakland’s Chinatown were covered in red envelopes and decorations on Friday. Red is a lucky color, bringing fortune and good health. Chinese neighborhoods around the bay are seeing big crowds of last-minute shoppers.

“It’s exciting. It’s busy and it’s a headache,” said Gwen Wong.

In Oakland, there were few parking places and not much room on the sidewalks. Patrons formed long lines at Chinese markets and restaurants, trying to buy chicken, roast duck and barbecue pork for the holiday dinner.

For Chinese families, Friday is a day for decorating the home and cooking the big meal. All the prep work — like cleaning the house and getting the red envelopes ready — were generally completed days ago.

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