New Year’s parades are celebrations held world-wide to ring in the new year. In the United States, January 1st is the traditional date for many post-season college football bowl games, many of which are accompanied by parades and other activities to celebrate the events. Here are the oldest, most well-known, and most spectacular New Year’s parades in the USA:
The Rose Parade
The Rose Parade, also known as the Tournament of Roses Parade, is part of “America’s New Year Celebration” held annually in Pasadena, California. Hundreds of thousands of spectators line the parade route to watch the flower-covered floats, marching bands, and equestrian units march down the street. It is broadcast on multiple television networks and is seen by million of people worldwide. It is followed by the Rose Bowl college football game.
Members of Pasadena’s Valley Hunt Club first staged the parade in 1890. Since then the parade has been held in Pasadena every New Year’s Day, except when January 1 falls on a Sunday. In that case, it is held on the subsequent Monday, January 2. This exception was instituted in 1893, as organizers did not wish to disturb horses hitched outside Sunday church services.
Many of the members of the Valley Hunt Club were former residents of the American East and Midwest. They wished to showcase their new California home’s mild winter weather. At a club meeting, Professor Charles F. Holder announced, “In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let’s hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise.”
So the club organized horse-drawn carriages covered in flowers, followed by foot races, polo matches, and a game of tug-of-war on the town lot that attracted a crowd of 2,000 to the event. Upon seeing the scores of flowers on display, the professor decided to suggest the name “Tournament of Roses.”
The Mummers Parade
The Annual New Year’s Day Parade has been a Philadelphia tradition for more than 300 years, since the late 1600s. The official, city-sponsored Philadelphia Mummers Parade began on January 1st, 1901, as a way to formalize the celebration of the New Year. Many local clubs spend months preparing elaborate costumes and moveable scenery that showcase the vibrancy and tradition of Philadelphia, which has roots that trace back to the mid-17th-century, blending elements from Swedish, Finnish, Irish, English, German and other European heritages, as well as African-American heritage.
The Mummers derive their name from the Mummers’ plays performed in Philadelphia in the 18th century as part of a wide variety of working class street celebrations around Christmas. By the early 19th century, these coalesced with earlier Swedish customs, including the Christmas neighbor visits and possibly shooting firearms on New Year’s Day (although this was common in other countries as well) as well as the Pennsylvania German custom of “belsnickling,” where adults in disguise questioned children about their behavior during the previous year.
One of the things that really makes this parade so special is that this is not a “Hollywood-style” production; the 10,000 Mummers who march in the parade each year are not professional actors and performers, they are citizens of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods and surrounding communities. That is why the Mummers Parade is often called the longest-running folk festival in America.
Chinese New Year Parades
February 11, 2017
For anyone who loves a parade, there is nothing quite like the Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco. Named one of the Top 10 parades in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association, San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade is one the last remaining illuminated night parades in the United States. At more than 150 years old, first held in 1858, it is the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia.
The California Gold Rush caused many Chinese immigrants to come to San Francisco and work in gold mines and on railroads in order to find wealth and a better life. In the 1860’s the Chinese community who wanted to share their Chinese culture with others, blended their traditions with American traditions and held a parade with flags, banners, lanterns, drums and firecrackers which led to what is now known as the San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade.
This year’s parade takes place on February 11th and celebrates Lunar Year 4715, the Year of the Rooster. Each year, elaborate floats, gorgeous multicolored costumes, roaring lions and the annual favorite, the Golden Dragon carried by members of the White Crane martial arts group, make their way through the streets of the Chinatown district. Miss Chinatown USA is traditionally present at the parade, as is a Golden Dragon which is over 200 feet long and manned inside by over 100 puppeteers. The Golden Dragon and 600,000 firecrackers conclude the parade.
New York City
February 5, 2017
Celebrate the Year of the Rooster at two key neighborhood fetes organized by the Better Chinatown Society. During the New Year’s Day Firecracker Ceremony (Jan 28), hundreds of thousands of the sparkly explosives will be set off to ward off bad spirits for the year, then a cultural festival—with dance performances, Chinese food and more—takes over Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The Lunar New Year Parade (Feb 5) is also a can’t-miss event.