Friday, February 15, 2013

Chinese New Year Dragon Parade 2012

Today's post follows the theme of last week's 3D photo of the Chinatown Gateway Arch, in that the Lunar New Year is around this time of year.

Every year, there is a dragon dance through Chinatown down Somerset Street. Last year, I made a point of checking it out, and I got some great photos. The parade is physically short, only a handful of floats, but the performances and audience interaction stretches out the time of the parade.

The parade stretches twice as far if you count these four #2 buses that slipped by in a gap after being held up behind the dancers:

As I mentioned, the audience interaction makes for a much different experience than the let's-watch-a-bunch-of-trucks-with-banners-and-waving-people-drive-past parades. The dragon dancers go right onto the sidewalks, mixing with the crowds.

Not only that, but they go right up the building balconies, too. From an audience standpoint, it's very exciting. They aren't just randomly picking places to go here and there: they are making a point of visiting every place. I think the idea is they are warding off evil spirits, or bringing good luck, or businesses get bad luck if they aren't visited. Anyway, the upshot is that this is why five floats take an hour and a half to walk a handful of blocks. But it has a nice personal touch to it.

Here is the other dragon, looking down from a second floor balcony:

Also in the parade are two long dragon trains being carried along by groups of people. I think it's telling that there is a lot of grey hair among the people holding up the dragons.

It wasn't all traditional-Chinese stuff: somebody dressed in a cartoonish red dragon outfit was also going along the parade, also interacting with audiences.

And this dog got in on the action too with a green and yellow dragon outfit:

The parade terminated at the Chinatown Gateway Arch, where the dragons do a lot of dancing under the arch surrounded by a rather substantial crowd.

This year's parade is tomorrow, Saturday, February 16, 1-2:30pm, starting at Preston and Somerset (assuming it follows last year's route). Details—and coupons for deals at Chinatown businesses—are available on the Ottawa Chinatown BIA website.

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