rabbit.jpgRelated: SFMTA Weekend Traffic And Transit Advisory: Chinese New Year’s Parade, Street Fair, Presidents’ Day Muni And Parking, BART This Weekend: New Station, Chinese New Year’s Parade And Presidents’ Day Service Changes

Organizers of San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade expect close to a million spectators to gather along the parade route Saturday evening to celebrate the Year of the Hare.

The annual parade, a city tradition that dates back to 1858, has nearly 5,000 participants, hundreds of volunteers, and will include 26 floats, marching bands, students, dance troupes, music, and lots of firecrackers, spokeswoman Karen Eng said.

“It’s a noisy parade. It’s a festive occasion. And it’s a nighttime parade so it’s unique,” Eng said.

The Chinese New Year Parade will begin at 5:15 p.m. at Market and Second streets and will proceed down Geary and Post streets before ending on Kearny Street at Columbus Avenue.

The parade lasts about two and a half hours, rain or shine, Eng said.

Saturday’s parade will cap two weeks worth of Chinese New Year events, including a flower market fair, a run for charity, and the popular Miss Chinatown U.S.A. pageant.

The winner of Feb. 10’s pageant, June Quan, will be crowned tonight at a coronation ball and will be a featured participant in the parade.

There are a limited amount of bleacher seats available and tickets for those have already sold out, Eng said.

KTVU and KTSF televise the event but many of the spectators will be lining the streets along the route, Eng said.

The city has been hard at work preparing for the crowds. The Department of Public Works started their beautification project with a thorough steam cleaning of the Broadway Street Tunnel.

City workers spent three weeks removing graffiti, washing the iconic entrance to Chinatown on Grant Avenue, and manually and steam cleaning the streets in Chinatown and along the parade route, department officials said.

Erika Heidecker, Bay City News

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