Welcoming a New Year in an Old Neighborhood

February 10, 2008

This old neighborhood in Lower Manhattan has been known as “Chinatown” since the mid-eighteenth century.

While it hasn’t been the center of New York’s Chinese life for decades, the area remains the city’s oldest and best-known Chinatown (New York’s other Chinatowns are located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens) and it is still the site of the region’s largest lunar New Year celebration.

Today, the narrow, twisting streets were filled beyond capacity as thousands of people squeezed in to buy souvenirs, cheer the dancers, drummers and marchers, and twist the cardboard tubes of confetti shooters ($5 each! Three for $10!) until their contents exploded, showering the crowd with shiny paper and foil.

This year, as the parade welcoming the Year of the Rat drew to a end, a sudden, fierce snowstorm erupted. The swirling white flakes mixed with the brightly-colored steamers, delighting the children, quickly clearing out the celebrants and creating a memorable close to this chilly, festive day.

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New Year’s decorations for sale on Mott Street

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The streets were packed

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The star of the day, the New Year’s Rat

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Getting a good view of the parade

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Boy with a lion costume

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Displaying white lion mask

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Good thing Dad is tall

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Some kids can’t see a thing

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Wearing mouse ears to honor the Rat

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Grown-ups wore mouse ears, too

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Metallic streamers landed in her hair

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Father & daughter try to trigger confetti shooter

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Boy with confetti shooter

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Girl with New Year’s sweets

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Paper dragon in a storefront

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Enthralled by the spectacle

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A smile as big as the parade

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Girl having a great time

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The air was filled with confetti

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That isn’t just paper falling!

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It’s snowing!

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The crowd starts to clear out

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Soon only the police are left walking through the storm


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