by Xinhua writers Ye Zaiqi, Wu Xiaoling
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of jubilant residents from local Chinese community in San Francisco on the U.S. west coast and curious foreign tourists Saturday packed a downtown small street, with vehement anticipation for the dragon dancing that would herald the celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The celebration of the Year of the Dog in Chinese culture, which falls on Feb. 16, began Saturday morning amid the sunny warmth of early spring in Chinatown of this resort city with a mini-procession that included lion dancers, giant walking puppets, costumed stilt walkers, drummers and dancers.
The thunderous drumming performance excited the exuberant audience on both sides of the 400-meter-long narrow street decorated with the traditional lavish bright red color that symbolizes happiness and enjoyment in Chinese culture.
Their faces glowing with smiles, the revelers were bustling among the more than 120 street stalls on the Flower Market Fair that sold fresh flowers, tangerines and sweets, selecting and picking their favorite souvenirs.
At one of the stalls that sold botanic plants and flowers, a sales clerk was busy helping his customers wrap up the flowers they've bought.
"The flamingo flower is the best seller at my stall today," said the clerk, who declined to be named, because the flower's name Huohe (literally Fire Crane) connotes the "fairy crane" in Chinese legends, which symbolizes elegance, nobility and longevity.
He said he has attended the annual flower market fair in the past dozens of years, and would like to share the joyful moment with his customers while making some money from his small business.
The Flower Market Fair is usually held on the weekend before the Spring Festival.
The Flower Fair is the place for local residents and tourists to purchase fresh flowers, fruits, candies and brand new supplies for the home to begin the new lunar year.
It also offered an opportunity for locals and visitors to take delight in performances of traditional Chinese magicians, acrobats, folk dancers and opera while breathing the beautiful fragrances of spring.
Mike Tony, a native San Franciscan, said he came here for Chinatown celebrations every year because he was happy to feel the atmospheric pleasure of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
He said he learned about Chinese advancement in recent years on Youtube, the world's largest video-sharing social media network, and admired China's development that amazed many people in the rest of the world.
"I'm hoping to go to China sometime in the future," he said.
An 18-year-old girl who graduated from Nam Kue School in San Francisco but preferred to remain anonymous, said that she was enthusiastic about working as a volunteer for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the organizer of the annual two-day event.
"I have been working here as a volunteer for the past three years," she said, "It's more than just a fun."
"We have about 100 volunteers working for the Chamber of Commerce, and our job is to guide the traffic and help whoever needs assistance at the fair," she said, though she may have less time this year because she has been enrolled by University of California Irvine.
May Huang, another 18-year-old high school girl, who donned a trademark bright red costume as a Goddess of Wealth with a long beard in Chinese legends, was distributing free red rolled-calendars with a huge portrait of the God of Wealth along the street.
"In traditional Chinese culture there is only God of Wealth, but you have to call me Goddess of Wealth because I'm a girl," she grinned, while telling her story of a volunteer at the celebrations.
She said she emigrated to the United States 13 years ago, and that she almost showed up at the market fair every year to be costumed as a Goddess of Wealth.
"Goddess of Wealth brings good fortune to Chinese people, especially at the time of Chinese Spring Festival," Huang said.
"The atmosphere of festival warms your heart and electrifies your senses," she added.
This year's celebrations also included a mini-parade sponsored by the Southwest Airlines, featuring gorgeous floats, elaborate costumes, ferocious lions and exploding firecrackers.