Chinese New Year!

The Dragon and all of it's many legs.

Jason and I braving the beasts defening roar.

It was a crazy parade running through the streets of San Francisco.

Before it all started, I met up with my good friend Jason who was one of the legs of the parade's main dragon. I asked him how he got involved with this, turns out he was roommates with Thomas—one of the guys that'll hold the head.

Parading Dragon with the Transamerica Pyramid seen behind.

Starting on the left: Jason, his fiancee Kristen, Jeff—one of the coordinators, Bruce, and Jeff's son Thomas—who was holding the head most of the parade.

Waiting for the night to come, we had a lot of time to get some cool shots with the dragon.

Hover over the photos for a caption.

I got to hold the head up!

Me practicing taking selfies with my DSLR. I was having trouble holding the camera while reaching for the button until Jason and Kristen pointed out that I could switch to my left hand.


The other various floats and smaller dragons were already out there making there way between the crowds. It was almost time for this dragon to take its place at the end as the parade's finale. I had some time to catch up and hang out with Jason, Kristen, and Jason's dad—Bruce. It was nice to see some familiar faces in the city. 


Jason and Kristen are somewhere in the middle, Bruce was at the tail.


…and they were off! Raising and lowering the poles, the dragon wiggled and zig-zagged its way up Market Street. 


It's good luck to touch the dragon and there were many opportunities to do so.

I like the blue stripe on this one—gives it an electric eel sort of look.

One of the performance spots for the parade all lit up.

I ran ahead to catch up to the other dragons and floats. A couple of spots were set up with bleachers where sections of the parade would stop and perform—they were way to crowded to see anything. 

There was one float in particular I wanted to get a selfie with—and there it was just up the street!

I should sell the University this photo.

This float definately stood out the most.

Yep, the Academy of Art had its own float in the parade…which seemed out of place considering everything else was very much centered around Chinese culture. It had some funky looking dancing roosters on it but I was feeling a strong sense of pride nonetheless. 

Having taken my selfie, I focused my efforts on taking photos of Jason's dragon the rest of the way. I new of a spot that would make a good composition with interesting lighting (they were testing out these bright lights the night before and I got a cool shot in the previous blog post). I had to get to the other side of the gated parade line and the main dragon was coming up; Eventually I made my way around to the spot in front of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel:

Those large floodlights in the background made an awesome blue shining through all the firecracker smoke. I love how that light post is framed up with the roof lines all pointing toward it.

The dragon was moving fast and the foot traffic was always flowing the other direction; I got good at dodging and weaving through the crowds to get back in front of the dragon.

Fighting to get above the crowd, I was holding my camera up over my head blind firing—similar to Rambo when he's firing his M60 from the hip.

Wherever it went, loud strings of firecrackers were popping in front of its path; Everyone was covering there ears almost wishing it would just pass by quicker. 

Jeff smiling in front leading the dragon with "The Pearl" (the giant lollipop) signifying it's continual pursuit of wisdom.

A view down one of the busy Chinatown streets.

I climbed partway up a light post to get above the crowd. It got so close, I could practically reach out and put the camera in its gaping jaws.

The parade was over; The dragon left the official route to go back to its home and, strangely, so did the crowds allowing just a few people—including myself—to walk with it.


In the end, the dragon left the streets to go back into its cave leaving a large firecracker finale at the entrance:


The pile of firecracker debris after the smoke cleared.


Back into the booth filled Chinatown streets was a group dinner for Jeff's dragon group. He invited me which was awesome. People were firing off their last few firecrackers and street fireworks as we made our way to a back alley up a narrow staircase and into a small workout room filled with Chinese dragon heads.

Apparently their culture loves to chew on straight up fat. Jason was telling my about the food they've forced him to try while Thomas was there salivating over the description. One guy there exclaimed, "soda and Chinese food, what a combination!" which was strangely a good mix. Anything is good though when you've been running around for the last few hours—or in their case—carrying a dragon through the streets. 


Chinatown slowing down after the parade.

The little Chinese workout room where we had dinner.


Anyways, I had a good time with that crazy night and seeing Jason. Luckily had the weekend to wind down before I went back to school.