Lion Dance Parades Through Chinatown

By Simeng Dai
BU News Service

The streets near Phillips Square in Chinatown were packed with dance groups wearing large, colorful costumes and bustling crowds who gathered on Sunday for the lion dance parade, hosted annually by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England.

The parade has remained unchanged since it first started more than 15 years ago. As a long-time member of the Boston Chinese Freemasons Athletic Club, Arthur Wong has witnessed the years of the lion dance parade. “The dragon [costumes], [and]the drums are all from China. The tradition of going to each store and blessing it is from China too,” said Wong.

The lion dance groups visit almost every business to “bless them” along their procession through Chinatown. Eric Wu, the manager of Quic Pic BBQ restaurant on Beach Street, prepared lettuce, oranges, firecrackers and red envelopes of money for the lion dancers. Equipped with traditional Chinese drums, the groups marched through the neighborhood, tossing lettuce and oranges in the air, while business owners lit firecrackers to scare away evil and usher in higher profits in the coming year.

The parade attracted more vendors in the past years but smaller crowds, according to Jimmy Chin, a community service sergeant in Chinatown.

This year, there has been more participation in the lion dance parade from non-Asians. Boston University graduate student Alex Rittenberg has been a member of the Nan Pai kung-fu club for seven years. He learned judo, a Japanese modern martial art, before he joined the kung-fu club in Boston. Tony Hawkins, 65, a Quincy resident, has been studying Tai Chi, a Chinese martial art, in Woo Qing’s White Crane kung-fu school for years and came out to help hold flags during the parade.

“The kids learn lion dance, which they can transfer to a fighting technique,” Hawkins said.

The parade, which usually takes place on the first Sunday after the lunar New Year, was delayed two weeks because of severe winter weather.

Simeng Dai/BU News Service
Simeng Dai/BU News Service

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