There were the popping firecrackers, festive crowds, brightly colored lion costumes and steady drum beat.
And cabbage. In the streets, on the floors of the shops, in the six foot snow and ice mounds. Cabbage was everywhere for the Chinatown Lion Dance Parade on Sunday, a celebration of Chinese New Year.
“It’s a good luck thing but it ends up being piles of cabbage everywhere,” said Bethany Phong, a 28-year-old part-time journalist who has tried to attend the celebration every year since she was a child. “It’s fun though. It’s so cold, it’s nice to have something festive like this that cheers everyone up.”
As marchers paraded in teams through the closed-off streets, some in lion costumes, and drummers beat time, shop owners fed the gold, red and orange “lions” cabbage and an orange for good luck. While the lion dancers chucked the oranges into the crowd, where they’re a coveted good luck token, cabbage leaves ended up everywhere.
“I love it,” said Jordan Gibson, a 25-year-old comic book artist originally from Austin, Texas. “We don’t have any traditions where I’m from, we just hang out or whatever, so it’s nice to see something that’s fun, that people do every year, that’s a tradition.”
Peiming Lu, a 29-year-old interior designer living in Boston, said the celebration was foreign to her growing up in China.
“It’s cool, I’m Chinese and I don’t even see this back in China,” she said. “I think this is something that goes back to the old Chinese culture. I believe my parents saw this when they were little. Me? I never saw this. We saw fireworks. That was it.”
Sally Gales, a 29-year-old architect, moved to Boston from Florida last year.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. “I’ve never seen one, put it that way. I don’t think we have a Chinatown in Florida.”
The crowd was a mix of camera-toting tourists and locals.
Peter Chau, a 31-year-old from Boston who manages inventory for a living, had been out flag brandishing team of dozens that included two costumed lions from Boston Chinese Freemasons for several hours – the festivities went from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Asked if there was any particular route his team was taking since it appeared like the various costumed lions were going wherever they pleased, Chau shrugged.
“There is a route, but I don’t know it,” he said. “The important thing is that it brings families together. That’s what it’s all about.”