What’s Your Best Memories of the Chinese New Year?

By Rev. Norman Fong

January 22, 2018



What’s your best memory of the Chinese New Year as a kid?

Of course, most people would say getting “lucky money in red envelopes!” For me, looking back, my best childhood memories weren’t about getting the “lucky money”.

As a little boy, I remember Chinese New Year’s as the time that mom & dad would take the time to buy me & my twin sister new shoes. We’d always go together to Kay’s Shoe Store on Grant Avenue near Pacific Ave. I don’t know why but my shoes often had a hole in the bottom (probably because I wore them out. I remember sitting on a homemade skate board and using my shoes as the brakes). I even had to use cardboard to plug up the holes and was always worried when it rained. I really appreciated every Chinese New Year’s as “New Shoes Day”.

Like everyone else in Chinatown, I also treasure the great big dinners we had with our extended family. My Uncle would always make some “jai”, a vegetarian dish, with “Fot Choy” in it. Everyone was so happy (because no one could get angry – it was considered “bad luck”). The Chinese New Year was really a time of renewal & starting over again.

As a teenager, I remember playing with my band on a truck in the Chinese New Year Parade! We were all excited to see thousands of people lined up along the streets watching us and all the performers at the parade. I remember it was the Year of the Monkey (1968) because I had to blow my saxophone through a Monkey Mask. I also remember that year trying to get our high school (Galileo) to make Chinese New Year an official holiday and got hundreds of my co-students to sign that petition. I wanted the school to respect the Chinese Holiday too.

street fair

Since 1991, I have had the opportunity to co-emcee the Chinese New Year Parade and I am so proud of what the Chinese Community & the Chinese Chamber of Commerce has been doing for decades in San Francisco. Although, we will all miss Rose Pak who use to make a lot of political comments every year at the parade, it is still so important that the whole community & the San Francisco Bay Area come to the parade & street fairs. I was lucky enough to be involved with the Chinese Chamber in helping start both the Chinese New Year Street Fair & the Flower Fair. It really is a “labor of love” that we should all be thankful for. Thousands of youth & adult volunteers come together every year to make it happen. The Chinese Chamber staff work so hard to coordinate it all and the parade is considered to be one of the top evening parades in the world! If you haven’t come to the Lunar new celebrations and you live in the Bay Area, you are all really missing out in life. Every year, I ask the crowd at the parade near the grand stand (on Kearny St / Jackson), “ANYONE FROM OUTSIDE THE USA HERE?” There’s always people in the crowd from Germany, France, China, Taiwan, South America, Canada…

dragon in cny parade

lunar new year mask

WE ALL NEED TO BE MORE THANKFUL FOR OUR FAMILIES & OUR COMMUNITY AS WE PREPARE FOR THE LUNAR NEW YEAR OF THE DOG. THE FLOWER FAIR BEGINS FEB 10TH & EVERYONE SHOULD COME TO SAN FRANCISCO’S CHINATOWN ON FEBRUARY 24 FOR THE CHINESE NEW YEAR STREET FAIR & THE PARADE. AND DON’T FORGET TO BRING YOUR NEW SHOES.





Originally published in Sing Tao Daily on January 21, 2018
 
 
 
 

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