Golden Dragon Parade fetes the Lunar New Year and Chinese culture

Multicolored dragons danced their way through Chinatown on Saturday as paradegoers, some wearing Year of the Monkey T-shirts, set off party poppers — filling the streets with yellow, red and green streamers in celebration of the Lunar New Year.

Los Angeles' 117th annual Golden Dragon Parade drew an estimated 150,000 people, said Connie Vuong, executive director of the area chamber of commerce.


"It's important to keep the culture and celebrate it the way we would do back in our communities," said Vuong, who was born in Macau, China. "To be able to be a part of this ... is an amazing feeling."

Lunar New Year is the premier holiday for the nearly 1.5 million people of Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese descent in Southern California, according to the chamber.

Floats reading "Health, Love, Wisdom," others displaying the monkey character and a red car carrying cast members from the television show "Fresh off the Boat" took part in the procession that closed parts of Hill Street and Broadway.

Hudson Yang, Forrest Wheeler and Ian Chen — who play sons Eddie, Emery and Evan Huang, respectively, on the sitcom — were joined by their real parents, who stressed the importance of their participation.

"The second generation, who've been born here, don't necessarily always have the anchoring in the tradition and cultures that immigrants brought here," said Jeff Yang, Hudson's father, who is from Taiwan. "For Hudson, Forrest and Ian to be a part of celebrating those ... is important, both for the community and for them as kids growing up as Chinese Americans."

Fourth- and fifth-graders from Castelar Elementary School held on to a dragon and headed down the parade route. Members of the Shaolin Temple Kung Fu School in Lomita banged on a drum as white- and orange-belted children practiced their moves.

Mark Budde held his 2-year-old daughter, Juniper, who was dressed in pink chipao — a traditional Chinese dress.

Brother Wesley, 5, was decked out in red.

"Red is a great color for Chinese New Year," said his mother, Elizabeth Budde. "It scares the evil spirits away."

The parade "is a great way for [his children] to stay in touch with their Chinese heritage," Mark Budde said.

On Saturday, those along the route protected themselves against the heat with parasols and bamboo hats — snapping pictures as floats, cheerleaders and bands headed through Chinatown.

Tiffany Kim, who is from Canton, China, and lives in Arcadia, brought her 5-, 9- and 10-year-olds.

"It's nice because it shows them the Chinese culture," she said, "since we don't get to go back a lot."

Princesses waved from one float, dancers swayed, and sidewalks were packed with excited adults holding kids in their arms or perched on their shoulders.


Parents hurried children onto the parade route, snapping photos of little ones with dragons.

"This gives a good bonding for families and different cultures," said Anna Cody, who is from the Philippines. She adjusted her bamboo hat as she ran to take a picture with the Kung Fu Panda character, waving excitedly at her daughters.

Nearby, Angie Yu patiently showed her 5-year-old daughter how to throw poppers on the ground, the sounds drowned out by the bands passing by.

Yu said she brought her daughter to expose her to her heritage.

"She's part Chinese," Yu said, glancing down at the youngster dressed in a T-shirt featuring a Chinese opera character. "She has to learn."

Twitter: @brittny_mejia