‘Survivor’ to head parade 

Growing up in Concord, Yul Kwon watched the Chinese New Year parade at home on television — but come Saturday, he’ll reside as grand marshal of the parade.

"It’s unreal," Kwon said. "The Chinese New Year parade is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate culture and heritage."

In keeping with the theme of Chinese New Year, Kwon has certainly had good luck in the past year — he was the winner of the reality TV show "Survivor: Cook Islands," claiming $1 million.

Now, Kwon hopes his role as grand marshal will help to shatter stereotypes about Asian-Americans and also gain more exposure for his favorite cause, the Asian American Donor Program.

Since his college roommate and childhood friend died from leukemia, Kwon has made it his mission to raise awareness about the program that recruits members of the Asian-American community to donate to the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.

The parade, a staple in The City since 1958, celebrates the Chinese tradition of Lunar New Year that started Feb. 18 and ends with the full moon 15 days later. The parade is expected to bring more than 550,000 people to Chinatown and will take place the same day as the Lantern Festival — an ancient tradition that ushers out winter’s cold with the symbolism of warmth. For many Chinese families, the time of the new year also symbolizes a fresh start — new clothes are worn, the house is cleaned and bills are paid.

"Families all start with a clean slate, pay bills and debts and are on good behavior. Thehome is filled with flowers and fruits — it’s a time for new growth and new life," Eng explained.

Saturday’s celebration of Lunar Year 4705 will begin at 5:30 p.m., when more than 20 floats, folk dancers, school groups, stilt walkers, and marching bands will participate. The parade’s grand finale will feature a 200-foot dragon and 650,000 glittering fireworks.

According to the National Weather Service, weather should turn pleasant in time for the parade — sunny skies are expected, followed by a clear evening. If you can’t join the estimated 550,000 spectators at the parade — don’t fret. The festivities will be televised beginning at 6 p.m. on KTVU Channel 2 and KTSF Channel 26.

Getting there

The parade begins at Market Street and Second Street, goes up Geary Boulevard, down Post Street and ends on Kearny Street at Columbus Avenue.


Will be running regular Saturday service, but with extended trains to accommodate more passengers. To get to the parade, exit at Embarcadero or Powell Street. For more information on schedules and fares, visit www.bart.gov.

» Muni

Will be running Castro Shuttle service — which is usually limited to the weekday — all day Saturday. There will also be extra L and M line metro trains running on Saturday. For more information on schedules and fares, visit www.sfmta.org.

» Caltrain

Will be running hourly Saturday service. For more information on schedules and fares, visit www.caltrain.com.

For more information, visit www.chineseparade.com.

Get the latest news, features, and event calendars for the Year of the Boar (or the pig, if you prefer) at Examiner's exclusive San Francisco Chinese New Year page.


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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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