Chinese New Year: Hilton delivers some New Year's spirit 

Chinese New Year’s Day is traditionally low-key for many Chinese families, who host a big dinner, visit relatives and give money-filled red envelopes to single relatives the day before or on a weekend day when relatives can all gather.

Visitors and locals interested in Chinese culture may not realize this, so Geoff Palermo, managing director of the Hilton San Francisco Financial District, which is connected by a bridge to Portsmouth Square in Chinatown, decided four years ago to put together a public celebration on New Year’s Day at the hotel.

This New Year’s Day, on Feb. 19, there will be dragon, lion and snake dances; a mini-parade with horses in honor of the Year of the Ram; children from the Chinatown Community Children’s Center singing Chinese New Year songs; and members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association present.

“The Hilton being the neighbor of Chinatown, we would like to dedicate ourselves to the betterment of Chinese culture, education and the arts,” said Doris Grover, the hotel’s community affairs director. “Celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year not only brings us closer to the Chinese community, it’s also to educate people all over the world about the customs of Chinese New Year.”

The celebration outside the Hilton, which usually takes place in the morning, welcomes the San Francisco community as well as hotel guests from around the world, who get invitation fliers delivered to their rooms.

Local leaders who have attended in the past include Mayor Ed Lee and Chinese Chamber of Commerce power broker Rose Pak, who is renowned for her role as public commentator during the Chinese New Year Parade.

Perhaps the highlight of the Hilton’s celebration, though, is Palermo dressing up as a Chinese emperor and giving out red envelopes. This year, the lucky recipients will be newcomer students from the Chinese Education Center.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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