Lunar New Year final weekend celebrations boost business in S.F.

SAN FRANCISCO — Event planners in San Francisco expect this year’s Chinese New Year Parade to be bigger and better than in recent years. About a million people may crowd into the downtown and Chinatown neighborhoods for the big celebration on Saturday.

On the streets of Chinatown, merchants were already seeing more tourists and locals Friday night.

Nancy Yu Law said red envelopes are the best-selling items at her gift shop Asia Star Fantasy on Grant Avenue.

“After good weather, the business is picking up,” she said. “This year we have more inventory, more prepared for the new year.”

Yu Law’s shop was burglarized last summer and the crime was captured on surveillance video. Nearby, her boba shop, Love Tea, was also vandalized recently.

She said she’s seen a noticeable difference in police presence in Chinatown over the past two weeks.

“I see them drive by every hour. I see them and I see walking by too and also the ambassadors also coming more often. Like yesterday, for instance. I close at 7 o’clock at the boba shop and they’re coming to say ‘Hey, is everything OK?'” Yu Law said.

In nearby Union Square, a decades-long Lunar New Year celebration was underway at the Hilton hotel Friday night.

The 2023 Miss Chinatown USA contestants wowed the crowd with their beauty and talent.

The 65-year-old tradition took place on the eve of the city’s famed Chinese New Year Parade.

Members of the San Francisco police department also showed their support. Security will be especially tight on Saturday.

“We will have more officers assigned to the parade than we’ve had in recent memory and we want everyone to come out and celebrate the parade and they’re going to see police officers everywhere,” said SFPD assistant chief David Lazar.

Back in Chinatown, a father and son from Truckee were already getting into the spirit. They threw poppers onto the street.

“The cool things are like the big dragon floaties and the — whatchamacallem? —  the dancing people with the drums and then, of course, the fireworks are amazing,” said 11-year-old Abram Fichter.

“The Year of the Rabbit, the year of hope. And I’m hoping for safe, peace and also good business,” added Yu Law.

It’s a wish shared by many in a community of small businesses still recovering from a tough couple of years.

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