The Lunar New Year Parade is returning to Chinatown this weekend. As hundreds are expected to gather, the Chicago Police Department will be on alert following the recent mass shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., that left 11 people dead.
Ald. Nicole Lee (11th Ward) said a top priority has been putting together a security plan.
“After talking to the police superintendent, the police commanders and the city services, we know that everybody is on high alert,” Lee said. “We don’t want anything to happen, but we absolutely have to be prepared for the worst and the best, and I think the best way to combat this sort of hate and gun violence is to gather together and be together.”
Despite concerns, businesses and visitors are preparing for colorful celebrations. Along South Wentworth Avenue, one can see traditional decorations in preparation for the annual parade, which will usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
“Everything starts from the beginning, and we wish that the new year is going to be different from the last year,” visitor Duong Manhcuong said. “There’s going to be more wealth, more health and more money.”
Lee said she will walk in this year’s parade.
“This Lunar New year, especially, 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’ve watched my entire life growing up in the community. To be able to march in it as its representative is going to be amazing.”
The community believes reuniting with family is very important during Lunar New Year celebrations. Sandy Ruan from Project Vision, an organization catering to youth in the neighborhood, said she is focusing on connecting students with their culture.
“There’s a lot of food, lucky red envelopes,” Ruan said. “It’s rewarding to see their eyes light up when they see decorations, and we have a blessings tree and just them wishing blessings on their families, prosperity and all their wishes coming 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. “It’s only eaten during holidays. So it’s very autumn moon festival, the Lunar New Year, it’s really important during the celebration of this year.”
The parade takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday. The route begins at the intersection of 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue. Spectators can expect dragon and lion dancing teams, as well as colorful floats.