Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this post, and the opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of AT&T or HTC. AT&T gave me the HTC OneX+ to live-tweet photos of the event. Photos posted were taken by the HTC OneX+ or HTC OneX. Special thanks to suki for sharing this opportunity with me.
Being from San Francisco has its many advantages, and is likely why I don’t see myself leaving anytime in the near future. A diverse hub of culture, food, nightlife, music, cinema and art at our fingertips, and just a short drive to the great outdoors, San Francisco attracts people from all over the world. And yet I have to admit its easy as a native to take everything for granted. It’s almost second nature to avoid large masses of people, so after watching the parade from the sidelines many many years ago (what I like to dub the human sardine experience), I was happy to appreciate it from behind a t.v. screen in the comforts of home.
This year, I was given a chance from AT&T to actually walk in the annual San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade to promote their HTC OneX+ phone (released in November 2012). They sent me the OneX+ and all I had to do was show up, walk with them, and live-tweet photos (No specific hashtag given, so I used #CNYParade). My travel writer friend, Keane, also documented the experience (non-cellphone photos).
The nice folks from AT&T handed us T-shirts, bright orange beanies, and texting gloves, which came in pretty handy when temperatures dropped and the winds picked up. Here’s me and the terracotta warrior throwing up fobby peace signs. It had to be done. How else could I show off those sexy texting gloves. ;P
After being windblown (wear layers) on Market Street (aka a wind tunnel) while waiting for the parade to begin, and taking photos of any float/dragon that passed us by, we crawled along the 1.5 mile course from Market to Kearny, to Post, up Powell, down Sutter, down Kearny, toward Columbus. It’s been over a decade since I’d been around the parade, and I was genuinely surprised at the huge turnout. “Oh, it’s just the Chinese New Year parade.” became a simple “Wow!” I’d forgotten what a large citywide celebration it was. The parade featured local school bands, drill teams, color guards, martial arts troupes, lion dance troupes, Asian Art Museum’s Terracotta warriors, Miss Chinatown, many sponsoring businesses, and the impressive Golden Dragon.
Shout out to Thurgood Marshall AHS, my high school who participated somewhere along the way. Witnessing the excitement in kids’ eyes and cheers from the crowds when they saw themselves on the AT&T LED screen, more than made up for not seeing all of the other floats/groups. We were led by our fearless leader, the God of Fortune, who shouted well wishes of a prosperous new year to all. I hope that includes me and you and everyone we know!
People got creative, and even I took a mental note. Driving downtown during the parade: not suggested. Many streets are blocked off, but advice from the people above: park at the Sutter/Stockton garage and watch the parade from above. Another easier way to see the floats were on uphill streets, or you can also purchase tickets for the bleacher seats.
After the parade, rerouted buses were packed to the brim with people headed home. Wishing for prosperity became wishing for teleportation home after 4 hours of walking/standing. Would I walk the parade again? Maybe. I’ve learned my lesson. Eat and use the restroom before the parade. We were famished and exhausted even mid-way through the parade. The chance to take photos from the middle of the street without being worried about getting run over? Kind of worth it.