SAN FRANCISCO—Next year, the elaborated costumes, colorful floats and exploding firecrackers that are part of the known San Francisco Chinese Lunar New Year Parade will not fill the streets of the city as the celebration was canceled, according to a statement released by the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce on Sunday, November 1.

Due to a recent increase of cases in the city and concerns of large gatherings causing further spread of coronavirus, officials decided to cancel the 2021 parade. The chamber said that in the decision they considered that the event has to be planned months in advance but it is difficult to predict the status of the pandemic and of public gathering guidelines at this time. Instead of having a large parade, the tradition will be celebrated Feb. 20, 2021, with a televised broadcast special and an art project that will be displayed publicly. 

“While we are very hopeful for positive changes in the coming year, we must deal with our current conditions and recognize that plans for everyone’s safety in the future is our most important responsibility,” the chamber said in a statement.

The parade in San Francisco started as an event to educate the public about Chinese culture and it has been under the direction of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce since 1958. It used to be a local event until the mid 1970s when large crowds made the organizers move the route to wider streets. The New Year’s Parade started being televised by KTVU in 1987 and the whole celebration of the Chinese New Year expanded to a two-week festival. It is the largest celebration of its kind outside of Asia and more than 100 units participate each year with hundreds of thousands of spectators.

KTVU said they will televise a special highlighting many moments that have occurred in the parade. Before the special, people can see some of the parade’s decorated floats and painted ox sculptures —measuring five feet high and six feet long — as part of the art project and the celebration.  

Regarding the other events that are part of the San Francisco Chinese New Year festival such as the Flower Market Fair or the Chinese New Year Community Fair, the chamber said that these will be canceled as well. 

“We are considering some events, but they’re mostly canceled due to the pandemic,” the organizers said via Facebook. “We will announce if there are any as we consider safety protocols and the state of the pandemic.”

The Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and it falls between January 21 to February 20 each year. Next year, the lunar year begins on Feb. 12 and it will be the year of the Ox. 

“Like an ox, with fortitude and hard work, together we will build a bright and resilient 2021,” the chamber said.