SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco has grown to be the largest in the country. While some businesses in Chinatown have reported less foot traffic because of the coronavirus scare, the show went on this year before a big crowd.
Dragons, dancers and marchers rang in the Year of the Rat in colorful and festive fashion down Market Street, Saturday evening.
“It’s just a wonderful community gathering, and a great chance to celebrate the Chinese New Year, so we were just really excited to come out here and support our daughter,” said Michael Honeyman of San Francisco.
Judging by the huge turnout, concerns over the coronavirus did not overshadow the popular annual parade.
Currently, there are no diagnosed cases of the virus in San Francisco.
“I knew there were concerns about people not coming and I can see by the people here, that people didn’t stay away,” said Tom Barton of San Francisco.
Parade organizers monitored the developments and decided not to cancel the event, because following guidance from the CDC, they were confident the risk of contracting the virus was low. They also wanted to discourage xenophobia and discrimination against Asians.
“We brought masks out on the plane, we didn’t wear them. Life has a lot of risks, I think they’re doing as much as they can to protect the American people,” said Janet Kaufman, who was visiting from Albany, New York.
San Francisco health officials are reminding people to follow standard flu precautions.
“It’s pretty exciting that there’s so much energy in the streets, and I feel pretty confident that our city and state is doing a lot to make sure that the coronavirus doesn’t come in,” said Lucy Almers of the Chinese American International School.
Sandy Wong, who is Miss Chinatown 1973, rode in this year’s parade.
“People are scared right now, no one wants to get sick,” said Wong. “I understand that, but I was talking tonight with my family and they were cautious, saying should you go, and I go, I’ll go. I know I need to stay away from people that are coughing and I’ll wash my hands.”