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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year

Welcome to the Year of the Dragon!

I decided I wanted to see the Chinese New Year's parade this year since it is  the Year of the Dragon and I was born in a Dragon Year (way back when!) and so were Max and Samantha.  Patrick, alas, is a Sheep..... but we will forgive him.  We went down to the 13th arrondissement on Sunday to watch one of the Chinese New Year's parades happening this month.  We originally tried to see the parade at the Hotel De Ville (town hall in the heart of Paris) but really couldn't figure out the parade route, so when we finally arrived....we had missed the beginning.....

But as it turns out, I think we were at the better parade/area on Sunday.  It seems there is heavy Asian population in the 13th arrondissement and therefore the shops and restaurants where putting on their best.

This was our first parade in the city.  I don't know why I was thinking that it would be like in the States.....  First, like all things French, I think the start time was subjective.  It seems the French don't like to be held accountable when it comes to time.  Second, while waiting for the parade, people don't wait patiently on the curb, staking out their spots....... they stand in the middle of the road and wander around.....
Wandering around parade route....la la la.....

I thought "surely they will move back on the curb once the parade starts"..... NOT!  They form a column only wide enough for the parade participates to pass..... literally ONLY as wide as the parade.
Parade in the middle......
Spectators lining the sides......
Oh well, c'est la vie in Paris!  We backed away from the press of the crowd and stood on the sidewalk up on a little curb formed by a planter.  Every once and while I would brave the press, approach the crowd, and stand with my camera above my head and snap away.  Fortunately, I was able to get some good pictures.
Yeah, I supposed I looked like this......

We also grabbed a quick bite while we were down there.  We stood in line for a take-away chinese/vietnamese place.  It was super crowded and really hard to figure out what the process of ordering was, but I am glad we waited.  The food was very tasty for being "buffet line" kind of food.  The nems (egg rolls) where hot and tasty, the lo mein (new pan put out the minute we stepped up to the counter!) was a big hit with the kids, and I got the plate de jour which was a chicken curry with rice and it was the bomb.  The best thing is the way they serve it up.  They take your selections, reheat them so they are nice and hot and then they have this machine which puts a sealed plastic film over the top, so you are good to go with no slopping or spilling.  We stood on the sidewalk enjoying our lunch and watching the parade. We were extremely chilly (it was about 30F), so the warm food made everything that much better!

The parade route was inundated with balloon sellers....  There were 15 or so guys walking around with huge bundles of balloons and other crap (read:  silly string, confetti, horns) everywhere.  Some of the balloon bundles were so big, we almost expected the sellers to start hovering above us....
Nothing says Happy New Year like
Sponge Bob?!?!

T-Rex as big as you are?
The parade lasted awhile.  I would estimate about an hour and a half in length.  That was partly because of the stopping and starting of each group of participants to do demonstrations (or trying to get through the throngs of spectators!).  The people holding the dragon puppets would stop and preform a dance with the puppets weaving in and out.  We decided it was a "dragon battle" dance.
This dragon looks excited about some pizza!

Look out....here comes the White Dragon

Uh Oh!  Orange Dragon gets his ears tangled in the
White Dragon during their dance!
Other than being chilled to the bone by the end of the parade, we all enjoyed it.  If we attend next year... 2013 will be the Year of the Snake.... we will better prepared and know that here you just stand in the middle of the street and wait for the parade to move you out of the way!  How crazy to think spectators should line up orderly on the side and heed the road to the participates.  C'est la vie!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, sis. Here is a little about "Dragon" people:
    2012 is the year of the dragon. It is supposedly the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac. Dragons are magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, artistic, generous, and loyal. Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, and brash.

    As for me, my birth year was the Year of the Dog. Patrick and I are so domestic! LOL