The Lunar New Year Parade returns to Chinatown this weekend. As hundreds are expected to gather, the Chicago Police Department will be on high alert following the recent mass shooting in Monterey Park, California that left 11 people dead.
Ald. Nicole Lee (11th Ward) said a top priority was putting together a safety plan.
“After speaking with the superintendent of police, police commanders and city services, we know that everyone is on high alert,” Lee said. “We don’t want anything to happen, but we absolutely have to be prepared for the worst and for the best, and I think the best way to fight this kind of hate and gun violence is to come together and be together.”
Despite the concerns, businesses and visitors are gearing up for colorful celebrations. Along South Wentworth Avenue, traditional decorations can be seen in preparation for the annual parade, which will usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
“Everything starts from the beginning and we wish the new year to be different from last year,” said visitor Duong Manhcuong. “There will be more wealth, more health and more money.”
Lee said he will participate in this year’s parade.
“This Lunar New Year, in particular, is very exciting for me,” Lee said. “I think it will be a really wonderful feeling to be marching in the parade – in a parade I have seen my whole life growing up in the community. Being able to march in it as its representative will be great.
The community believes that reuniting with family is very important during the Lunar New Year celebrations. Sandy Ruan of Project Vision, an organization that caters to the neighborhood’s youth, said it is focusing on connecting students to their culture.
“There’s a lot of food, lucky red envelopes,” Ruan said. “It is gratifying to see their eyes light up when they see the decorations, and we have a blessing tree and only they wish their families blessings, prosperity, and all their wishes come true.”
It wouldn’t be a Lunar New Year celebration without food.
“A huge thing in our culture is eating moon cake,” Vesilla Dao said as she was on her way to share celebratory desserts. “We only eat during the holidays. So it’s just the autumn moon festival, the lunar new year, that’s really important during this year’s celebration.”
The parade takes place on Sunday at 1pm. The route begins at the intersection of 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue. Spectators can expect dancing teams of dragons and lions, as well as colorful chariots.