Vibrantly coloured Chinese lions danced through Calgary’s downtown core during the Chinese Centenary Celebration Parade yesterday.

Members of the Calgary-based Jing Wo Lion Dance Team both frightened and awed young spectators as they passed. Established in 1980, the group has grown from five to over 25 members.

The group of volunteer dancers ranges in age from six years to those in their mid-20s.

Not only do they dance for special events, but they ensure that Calgary youth get to experience Chinese culture.

Anne Mah, 3, stared speechless as the lions jumped in front of her. According to her mother, Jenny Mah, the parade is a chance for her children to experience their culture.

“Although we are Canadian, we need to cherish our heritage,” she said.

Chinatown’s 100th anniversary celebrations kicked off with the parade along with an afternoon of entertainment. Calgary has Canada’s third largest Chinese population, after Toronto and Vancouver, and Chinatown has been a core part of the city since 1910.

According to Ed Tam, co-chairman of the Calgary Chinatown Centennial Celebration Committee, approximately 1,000 participants took part in the celebrations. Over 30 associations including martial arts schools, marching bands, dance groups and various VIPs attended the event.