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Photos: San Francisco’s Lunar New Year parade celebrates the Year of the Dragon

Photos: San Francisco’s Lunar New Year parade celebrates the Year of the Dragon

Amid the loud pops of firecrackers, thousands of people gathered as dozens of floats rolled from Market and Second streets to Chinatown on a balmy Saturday to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

San Francisco’s Lunar New Year parade, the largest one outside of Asia, was highlighted by a 289-foot-long golden dragon that wound its way through the streets. The mythical creature is a symbol of luck, wisdom, strength and power in Chinese culture. The nearly 3-hour-long parade made its way through Chinatown on a 1.3-mile course that rounded Union Square before ending at Kearny Street and Columbus Avenue.

The Year of the Dragon officially began Feb. 10 and is the fifth of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac. Considered a powerful sign, those born that year are predicted to be innovative thinkers with inquisitive minds.

“Kung Fu Panda 4” movie actress, rapper and comedian Awkwafina was the Grand Marshal of this year’s parade. Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown rode in a convertible with Ashlyn Tsui, Miss Chinatown 2023. Organizers expected record crowds and the grandstand seats were sold out.

The Year of the Dragon is celebrated during the Chinese New Year Parade as a float by Hyundai cruises up Market Street in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
Actress and comedienne Akwafina serves as the Grand Marshal for the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The West Coast Lion Dance Troupe performs during the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The Chinese New Year Parade winds its way through Chinatown in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The Community Youth Center celebrates the Year of the Dragon marching in the Chinese New Years Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown rides with Ashlyn Tsui, Miss Chinatown 2023 during the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
Stilt walkers traipse up Kearny Street during the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
Rep. Adam Schiff, riding with San Francisco Supervisor Connie Chang, rides in the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
A lion from Yao Kung Moon Kung Fu Sport Association delights spectators lining Market Street for the Chinese New Year’s Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
Participants prepare to march in the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group) 
The Year of the Dragon is celebrated during the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)