SF shops take big hit due to canceled Chinese New Year Parade

"30% of the annual income (for many Chinatown businesses) is generated in this two-week time."

Video Transcript

- Now to Chinatown, where the Lunar New Year usually draws thousands of visitors to San Francisco. Tonight, the streets are empty, and the parade is canceled because of the pandemic. Even so, that didn't stop the celebration entirely. Here's ABC 7 News reporter Anser Hassan.

ANSER HASSAN: Kids setting off firecrackers in Chinatown is nothing compared to the firecrackers that lit up San Francisco during last year's annual Chinese New Year parade.

PETER KELLY: We miss it this year. And we can look forward to being back marching again next year.

ANSER HASSAN: Peter Kelly's son Liam marches every year. But tonight, no parade due to COVID-19.

HARLAN WONG: We are the largest Chinese celebration of the Chinese New Year outside of Asia.

ANSER HASSAN: Harlan Wong is the director of the parade and the two-week festival that precedes it. It was an extremely difficult decision to cancel, he says, and the impact on Chinatown can't be ignored.

HARLAN WONG: 30% of the annual income is generated in this two-weeks time.

ANSER HASSAN: San Francisco supervisor, Aaron Peskin, whose district includes Chinatown, says the Lunar New Year parade draws hundreds of thousands of tourists, who bring in millions of dollars in revenue.

AARON PESKIN: The economic impacts of the Chinese New Year parade are much bigger than Chinatown. I mean, this is a parade that fills up all of our hotels from the Hilton to the Hyatt.

ANSER HASSAN: There was a virtual event streamed online. And 11 ox statues have been spread throughout the city to commemorate the new year.

JENNIFER LEW: It's definitely, you know, crucial to pass down our heritage and our connection with our community.

ANSER HASSAN: Jennifer and Elden Lew both grew up in Chinatown. They say this year, it's even more important to show support in light of the increased attacks against the Asian community and businesses punished by the pandemic.

ELDEN LEW: Just seeing all these businesses being shut down, it's kind of a ghost town, to be honest with you.

ANSER HASSAN: Tough to see?

ELDEN LEW: It is. It tugs at the heart.

ANSER HASSAN: Wong says the year of the ox represents fortitude and hard work, and hopes those will be guiding forces through 2021.

HARLAN WONG: And for this year, one more very important line is [SPEAKING CHINESE], good health to everyone.

ANSER HASSAN: In San Francisco, Anser Hassan, ABC 7 News.