Chinese New Year is officially on February 19th this year, but the city of Jacksonville, Oregon decided to celebrate it a couple weeks early. Each year, the historic town honors the Chinese workers who contributed so much during the formation of the town during the gold rush by celebrating all the culture and festivities that go along with Chinese New Year.
Several years ago, I managed to get a day off of work to attend the festivities with my sister. I hadn’t been able to do it any other year that I lived in Oregon, but it sure was fun! I wanted to make a point of attending this year, but it just so happened that I was scheduled to work. Fortunately, my job for the day was my childcare job. After asking the mom, we both thought the kids would benefit from a fun day at the Chinese New Year festivities. As an added bonus, it saved a bunch of money by learning about Chinese culture just a few miles away instead of heading on a trip to China!
The main attraction is the parade. Tons of local businesses and organizations get involved. Since it was hard to find a parking space at one of Jacksonville’s most populated days of the year, we had to walk a ways to get to the main street where the parade was taking place. We found a nice empty space of curb near the end of the route just as the parade was beginning.
It started off with some cool classic cars.
And then there’s one of the Jacksonville trolleys. I took a tour of Jacksonville in this trolley several years ago, and it sure is fun! During the parade, the seats were filled with orchestra members. That sure beats playing in a marching band!
Being a parade to mainly celebrate Chinese culture, there were several of the traditional dragons. Some of the dragon cast members had fun getting up in kids’ faces and pretending to bite at them!
And there were a few costumed characters. The dragon one was more elaborate, but nothing beats the adorableness of a panda!
Although this is more British than Chinese, these were performers from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, so I guess it sort of made sense.
Several school groups got involved too, such as the school one of “my” kids attend. Another school made their own Chinese dragon costumes.
And how can you resist the cuteness of a young girls’ cheer team? They did “Go Rams” cheers, since this upcoming Chinese New Year is the Year of the Ram.
There were quite a few dragons considering that it wasn’t even the Year of the Dragon. This could be a scary parade for some children!
One group paraded all the animal years, starting with this year’s Year of the Ram. Although I was born in the Year of the Ram (so does that make this year some sort of special anniversary for me?), I think I would prefer to be Year of the Bunny!
And some old fashioned cars. I think the drivers had fun breaking all the rules of the road as the zigzagged the entire width of the street!
Then again, the parade celebrated many different cultures, not just Chinese. These flamenco dancers seem to prove that…
…And hula dancing originated from a different land as well!
This picture didn’t turn out so great since this tractor was going fairly fast, but this daycare turned a cute little tractor ride into cute little rams!
And even more dragons…
The parade ended with a decked-out motorcycle!
When the parade ended, the festivities were nowhere near complete. Special activities all over town were taking place. One advantage of Jacksonville is that nearly everything is within walking distance, even if you have a couple of tykes tagging along! If I had gone by myself or with someone closer to my age, I probably would have enjoyed the artifact exhibitions and the martial arts self-defense class. Since I was with kids, we ended up jumping in a bounce house (well, I didn’t, although it did look like fun!), making crafts, playing games, and learning origami. Although we only went to the activities marked specifically for children, I even had a bit of fun with the challenge to try to transfer marbles in a bowl to another bowl using only chopsticks!
After several hours, we had to leave the festivities, but the events in my day weren’t over yet! After bringing the kids back to their house, I headed over to my own home to get ready for my next event of the day. But I’ll wait until tomorrow to share that experience!