It was a celebratory return as Sunset Park hosted its annual Annual Chinese New Year Celebration Parade Sunday, Jan. 29.
It was the first parade for the holiday held in the neighborhood by the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association since Jan. 2020. The past two events were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
This year, over 20,000 showed up to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.
The celebration started at 11 a.m. at the grandstand on Eighth Avenue and 50th Street, which featured performances and cultural activities. Elected officials were in attendance such as Attorney General Letitia James, Comptroller Brad Lander, State Senators An- drew Gounardes and Iwen Chu, and Councilmembers Justin Bran- nan and Alexa Avilés.
Along with the pols, community leaders provided welcoming remarks.
Parade-goers also enjoyed a firecrackers display, a traditional lion dance, and a Kung-Fu demonstration.
BCAA Vice President Haney Ho told this paper the highlight of the celebration was the popping of giant red confetti filled balloons, firecracker display with over 50,000 firecrackers lit, the release of thousands of red and gold balloons floating up to the sky to usher in the Year of the Rabbit and bringing fortune and best wishes to the community as well as the lion dance.
“The parade inspired hope and excitement,” she said. “This coupled with the warm weather, drew hundreds and thousands of people to celebrate the Chinese New Year. To many Chinese-Americans, this was an opportunity for them to feel connected to their heritage and culture.”
The tradition of the parade started in 1988. The firecrackers were set off for the traditional ritual cleansing of homes and businesses to usher in a year of good luck.
There was also lots of police presence at the parade, both to celebrate and make sure everyone was safe.
The 72nd Precinct also introduced its new Commanding Officer, Captain Krystin Suarez.
“It was really great because after COVID, we stopped hosting it a couple of times so this year we brought it back,” said Louie Lou of the Brooklyn Asian-American Civilian Observation Patrol. “Lots of precincts were represented. We patrolled all the space to make sure that the kids were safe and that all the kids had a great new year season.”
According to Paul Mak, this event gave New Yorkers a closer view of Chinese tradition and promoted racial harmony and a better understanding of the Chinese people and culture.
“Most of all, this glorious cultural event was a special occasion to unite and involve the people and local businesses from the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Ho. “[Mak] hoped that the parade would bring in good luck to the Sunset Park community and revive the local economy.”
Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta.