This year saw the 47th edition of the Chinese New Year Parade in Vancouver. It wound through the streets of Chinatown on Sunday, January 26th and marked the start of the year of the rat on the lunar calendar.

I love shooting in Chinatown. However, in all my years living in Vancouver, I have never been to the parade before. I have wanted to go many times. However, for one reason or another, I have not been organized enough to go downtown to watch. Luckily a friend, Anita, reminded me about it in time to put it on my schedule with indelible ink this year.

Who doesn’t love a parade?

As a child, I remember going to the Santa Clause and May Day parades with my family. The last parade I saw was the Mermaid Parade in New York, a few years back. I have so many great memories of those events!

For me, photographing a parade is about capturing behind the scenes moments. The marching bands and floats are lovely. But, it is the smiles on children’s faces, the reactions of people watching, and the preparation as participants get ready, which are the most interesting to me.

Forecast: Rain

Anita, Paul and I planned on getting to the parade well before it started. I was the most excited about photographing the participants as they got ready. We also wanted to make sure we gave ourselves time to scout out an excellent location to watch the parade.

Now just a bit of background; this January was the fifth wettest on record with 55% more rain than we historically receive! Yes, I know Vancouver sees a lot of rain. However, there was only one day without measurable precipitation in the month! So it wasn’t surprising when my husband decided that sleeping in was far more preferable to getting up early and slogging around in the predicted downpour all day! None the less, Anita and I decided to persevere with our plans and aimed to catch an early train downtown in the morning. I was not going to miss the parade for another year! Imagine our surprise when we awoke to a relatively bright morning!

Lions, Dragons, and Rats

The Vancouver parade has the largest gathering of traditional lion dance teams in Canada. The coordination between the front and back end of the lion was incredible. Each lion took on a character of its own. I was fascinated by how the lions would find children in the crowd, go over to them, and then lie down beside them, or rub their head against them.

The dragons were terrific too. They were so colourful. Some had over a dozen people working the head and body in one graceful movement.

And of course, being the year of the rat, there were lots of rodents running around too!

The Year of the Rat

I’m so glad Anita and I decided not to let a bit of gloomy weather “rain on our parade!” We had a wonderful day, and the weather even cooperated for us. What a great way to usher in the year of the rat!

Here are a few of the images I shot at the parade. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading and cheers until next time!