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Vancouver celebrates Year of the Dragon at 50th Chinatown Spring Festival

Thousands gathered Sunday to watch the procession

Dragons danced to the beat of drums through the streets of Vancouver’s historic Chinatown neighbourhood Sunday morning.

The spectacle was part of the 50th Anniversary of the Chinatown Spring Festival Parade.

The procession began at 11 a.m. at the newly refurbished Millennium Gate and thousands lined the 1.3 kilometre route to watch.

Chinese-Canadian veterans, dancers wearing traditional Chinese garb and politicians including British Columbia Premier David Eby, who handed out envelopes of chocolate coins, were in attendance.

Carol Feng of the Hanfu Culture Association was also among those dressed in traditional Chinese clothing to walk in the parade.

She said in an interview that, for her, the Lunar New Year serves as a reminder of where she comes from and walking in the parade is a way for her to connect to her heritage and practice tradition.

“Chinese New Year is a way for us to think of our hometown and our parents, and (serves as) a reference for thinking and tradition,” she said.

Kunyue Liu said it was her first Lunar New Year Parade in the city. She along with her two friends Cecilia Lam and Bella Chan also dressed in traditional clothing, specifically from the Ming Dynasty.

“The traditional colours for New Year are red and green, so they symbolize good fortune for the new year,” she said referencing their clothing.

Rose Wong and Samantha Lau brought their children to see the parade, who had been patiently waiting in the rain for the parade to begin.

“We went when we were kids, so we thought would be nice to bring them out for them to experience it,” Wong said of the parade, adding she was most looking forward to seeing the dragon dance.

Eby issued a statement ahead of the parade saying he would be taking part. The statement said the Lunar New Year is a “reminder of the incredible contributions Asian Canadians make” to the province, and the parade also celebrates the role of the historic Vancouver neighbourhood.

“It documents our past and brings people together today to share and learn and work together to build a better tomorrow,” the statement said.

Eby said that is why the government pledged $2.2 million in provincial funds last May to reshape and revitalize Vancouver’s Chinatown and why the province helped create Canada’s first Chinese Canadian museum, which opened last year.

He said the province is also introducing new anti-racism legislation this year that aims to “address the gaps and barriers in government services and providing supports for those affected by racism.”

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Brieanna Charlebois, The Canadian Press