Chicago Chinatowns to strengthen planned security for Lunar New Year parades


After two mass shootings in California in recent days, Chicago police and organizers of local Lunar New Year celebrations are taking extra precautions.

The Chicago Police Department will increase planned security for the Lunar New Year parades on Saturday in Uptown and Sunday in Chinatown.

“Our volunteers, as with the police, will be on high alert and very aware of our surroundings,” said Gene Lee, founder of Chicago Chinatown Special Events, which organizes the annual Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown. This weekend will mark the parade’s 111th year.

Lee and other organizers met with CPD officers and plainclothes officers will be at the parade, Lee said. Chicago Chinatown Special Events has also hired private security agents, who will work independently.

Organizers will use the parade’s public address system to remind guests to watch out for suspicious activity, Lee said.

Although the CPD declined to provide details, the department said in a statement earlier this week that it will communicate with community members as planned security ramps up.

The heightened cautions come after a gunman killed 10 people at a dance club Saturday night during Lunar New Year celebrations in the predominantly Asian American city of Monterey Park in Los Angeles’ east fringe.

In a separate shooting in Half Moon Bay, Calif., on Monday, a gunman killed seven people and seriously injured another. Some of those victims were also Asian, officials said.

The Chinatown Parade will kick off Sunday at 1 PM on Wentworth Avenue, running north from 24th Street to Cermak Road. Before it was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the parade drew about 20,000 people each year, Lee said. He expects to see the same this year.

In Uptown, 2,000 to 3,000 people are expected to attend Saturday’s Lunar New Year Parade, which begins at 1 p.m. on Argyle Street and Winthrop Avenue.

“Of course we are aware of and saddened by the events that have taken place in California,” said Gregg Carroll, director of partnerships and events at Uptown United, which hosts the annual parade. “But I think we feel good about still providing an opportunity for people in our area to celebrate.”

Carroll checked in with business and cultural leaders involved in the parade after the recent California shootings, she said. So far, everyone still plans to participate, Carroll said. Parade organizers met on Tuesday to discuss additional concerns.

Uptown United will not be taking on private security, but is working closely with CPD and Ald’s 20th Precinct. Harry Osterman (48th) following contact with the city, Carroll said.

Though grim and cautious, the residents are determined to keep on celebrating.

“Everyone is worried about this, but as most people I’ve talked to feel, life goes on,” Lee said. “I have to go out and do the shopping. I have to eat in restaurants. I’m leaving for the parade.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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