I’ve made an effort to attend the Chinese New Year parade for several years now. It’s always bone-chillingly cold, most of the floats are sponsored by various political representatives, and the crowds can be overwhelming, but I still really like it. When another lolita posted about arranging a meetup for the parade, I was very excited! Plans were made to gather in Chinatown, watch the parade, head to a restaurant, and maybe do some shopping in the area.
We started gathering together about a half-hour or so before the parade. I arrived as early as I could manage, so that I could spot anyone who might be lost. On my way to the meeting spot, a car that was waiting in line to park in one of the lots rolled down the windows, and the passengers waved and called out to me. Normally that sort of behaviour is the sort of thing I ignore, but I noticed that although I didn’t recognize the occupants it seemed that at least one of them was wearing a headdress. I wound up meeting both of those girls later, when they finally found the group after parking their car.
I stood in the snow for a while, and found out that I can actually knit while wearing gloves if I am determined enough. I put that aside when the first attendees arrived. While we talked, a gentleman with an unusual camera came over and started to take pictures, sprawling himself into all sorts of crazy poses and making comments like, “Beautiful, girls–fantastic!” as if he were conducting a photoshoot. He was nice enough to take a picture using my camera, too. (I think that’s only fair, considering that we let him take pictures of us.)
Slowly more and more lolita arrived. The original organizer was unable to make it to the event, so I kept track of everyone on a checklist. A surprising number of people braved the cold to watch the parade! It made me very happy–sometimes I’ve been the only person willing to stick it out, while everyone else seeks shelter in a warmer shop or café.
I tried to get pictures of everyone, but as the time for the parade to begin drew closer and closer the sidewalk became more and more crowded. It wasn’t worth it to lose our viewing space right at the front.
One of the things that I particularly enjoy about outdoor winter meetups is seeing how everyone has coordinated themselves. It’s one thing to put together a nice outfit, but another thing to then make that same outfit suitable for several hours standing in the snow. Not everyone owns a specifically “lolita” coat, but everyone still wants to look her best. It was clear that everyone attempted to match accessories, boots, and more without sacrificing utility. Being pretty can be lots of fun, but frostbite is not.
Even with all of the layers, coats, thick socks, scarves, boots, and hats, we were very chilly. After a while even the feet of those with the thickest socks and warmest boots were cold enough to be painful, and everyone joked about how what a relief it would be when our feet finally went numb and we wouldn’t notice anymore. Even though it was a joke, it was also very true.
I took so many pictures of the parade itself that it would be overwhelming just to pick a few to share here. I have a whole set on Flickr featuring the parade. There were floats from local businesses, groups representing current politicians and political hopefuls, several groups of adorable small children from nearby schools, a few marching bands, and even the the Shannon Rovers, despite there being nothing Irish about the parade. (I’m not complaining, though–I love bagpipes!)
When the parade was ended, we slipped in behind the final group and headed towards the St. Alps Teahouse. Some onlookers believed that we were part of the parade! A few girls, unable to withstand the cold, had headed to the café ahead of the rest of us. They had already gotten a table for a large group, but more lolita had joined us during the course of the parade. It was a bit confusing to get a seat for everyone–particularly because more girls kept arriving once we had reached our destination. The teahouse was very accommodating, but I think that if we go back as a group, I’ll make a reservation. It took a little while to get everyone’s orders and figure out how the checks would be drawn up.
I was very excited when the restaurant was visited by a lion! After the parade, the lions visit the businesses in Chinatown. Each business feeds the lion oranges and lettuce, which it accepts and then throws the greens around the shop. (They’re supposed to be arranged in the shape of an auspicious character, but I haven’t really seen that level of detail.) This is supposed to bring good luck to the business for the upcoming year~ It’s lots of fun to watch–drummers signal the arrival of the lion, it dances around until it is led to the offerings, and then everyone cheers when it accepts them. I have called these beasts dragons, but I know it’s actually a lion–I just can’t shake the impression of it being a dragon!
When we finally parted ways after bubble teas, milk teas, and other fancy beverages were had. (I also ordered “classic toast,” which I love. It’s essentially a very thick piece of toast that is buttered and topped with condensed milk. They offer many types of this toast, but I prefer the condensed milk.) I stopped at a bakery to bring home some cake. My husband had to work and was unable to attend the parade with us, and I thought that delicious cake might be a nice gesture.
When I arrived at home the snow had stopped and the sun was setting. After having such a fun time with friends and new friends-to-be, everything seemed very peaceful and lovely~ ♥