San Francisco boasts to have one of the biggest Chinese New Year parade outside of China, but how about their festivals?

I been to Chinese New Year parade before while I was in high school, but I have never been to the afternoon festival portion. Out of pure curiosity, I ventured into Chinatown with my camera.

I was met by crowds and crowds of people. To get to see specifically what the booths are showing, you actually have to line up around the blocks in their “pre-designed” lines!

I tried to line up about 2 times just to see whats all the fuss about. I waited about 20 minutes just for one booth!! In the end, as I approached the booth, a lady told me to spin the wheel while another rings the metal bell. As the wheel stopped, the lady dropped a key chain in my palm. Did I just line up 20minutes for a key chain?!!!!! 

I gave up on the booths. I decided to walk around and just enjoy the scenes.

I walked by a display. It was amazing to see the display is as big as the lady’s height.

Some girls were trying to decorate the drum wagon for the night time parade. Many people stopped by and watched them.

Miss Chinese ladies were also out raising money for Chinatown Community fund.Their smile definitely stopped the traffic.

After the greeting from the beautiful ladies, I was looking for booths again, this one the ones that sell traditional Chinese New Year items.

Although I found some, unfortunately majority of the booths were selling things like rice cookers, 12 pack juices, Chinese DVDs, ginseng….

I did though, found other personalities on the streets of Chinatown!

Mr. McDonald was here at the party, with his proper attire and hair color that fits the theme of the festival perfectly!

To be honest, if you want to see all the booths and try to win the free stuff there, I recommend coming early like at 10am when the festival just started. If you just want to eat and enjoy some Chinese cuisine, come at another time when it is less crowded to try the restaurants here (there were no food booths). If you want to enjoy the Chinese New Year atmosphere, the parade at night would be the best. The festival portion was interesting for the first time, yet I can’t help to feel that it has lost its meaning as I saw lines wrapped around the block just trying to win little free things from the booths, and people were selling things I can just get in the Chinese supermarkets.

Honest and a bit brutal, but I hope the festival portion can be better next year when they select the vendors for the booths. Parade though will always rock!