By Sara Karlovitch

Thousands of people lined the streets of Chinatown for Washington’s annual Chinese New Year parade Feb. 18. This year was in celebration of the Year of the Dog.   

The parade is an annual event that has taken place in D.C. for over 75 years. It draws people of all ages and all ethnic backgrounds for an afternoon of culture and celebration. The parade includes a colorful display of dragon dancers, local Chinese schools, pageant winners, veterans, and fortune cookies and candy for kids.

The parade is an annual tradition for many. Andrew Chin, 43, grew up in Chinatown. His family owned a Chinese grocery store in the area and he has been attending the parade on a yearly basis.

“It’s just a tradition and every year Chinatown gets smaller” Chin said. “So it’s very important that you know, this continues … I’m just going to be a part of it.”

For some, the 2018 parade was the first time they celebrated Chinese New Year in the District. Jennifer Tran, 29, has been living in the city for a year. She has celebrated the Lunar New Year in the other cities she’s lived in.

“This is the first time we’ve been to the parade, but we really liked it,” Tran said. “It’s nice to be able to celebrate, you know, traditions that you did when you were a kid.”

The parade serves as a way for people to connect to their family and culture, even when they can’t go home for the celebration. Embassies and other outreached buildings have created a unique demographic for Washington. Many of the people who work the buildings cannot go home for the holiday.

Yao Hsiao, 33, has been living in the city for three years. She is originally from Taiwan and works in the representative office for the region here. She said she misses her family but “it’s exciting to celebrate with so many people. And also introduce our cultural with people here in D.C.”

For some, Chinatown itself represents something more, a connection to culture and home they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Linda On, 50, came to Washington from Hong Kong over 40 years ago. She now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. She would perform Chinese folk dances in the parade, but now acts as a volunteer. Her children are now active participants in the parade.

“Reminded me of home, culture … how we normally celebrated back in China. We got a Chinatown that is close enough to where I could still experience that normally,” On said. “Otherwise, if you live too far out, we just don’t. So it really brings me back home.”

Featured Photo Credit: On February 18, 2018 a dragon marches in the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown. (Lisa Woolfson/Bloc Photographer)

Sara Karlovitch is a sophomore journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at skarlovi@terpmail.umd.edu.

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