Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Dragons on Parade
This past Sunday I stepped out my front door only to be greeting by the sound of distant drums getting louder and louder. The beat got faster and faster...and louder and louder. Baracades lined the sidewalks and kept the growing mass of people crowded along the edge of the streets.
Before I knew it, colorful, swirling creatures rounded the corner and slowly made their way up the street, getting larger and larger, all the while zig-zagging in ceremonial patterns. Their undulating tails twitched and danced, and their large heads bobbed up and down, bowing and then freezing into various expressions as they gazed out at their audience.
Their eyes were lined with scales, fur, and ornamentation, all in various shocks of vibrant colors. Their nostrils jutted out above large, gaping mouths that snapped open and closed as they moved.
Children and adults danced around them, wearing masks and waving fans that corresponded to the rhythm of the dragons.
Every step was filled with excitement and delight, and all the creatures and participants crept past me as I stared from the sidewalk.
Just when I thought the last dragon had passed, another would emerge from the swarm of dancers and surprise me as it whisked past my face.
As I gazed at the oncoming waves of people, I caught sight of a great golden dragon snaking its way towards me.
Its jaw was fixed in an eternal grin as it weaved back and forth, in between amazed onlookers.
At one point, I could literally reach out and touch its golden scales as they flashed and flickered by.
I watched it elegantly slither past, gliding over the spectators and dancers' heads.
Next, a smaller–yet longer, serpentine dragon raced past, as if it was the child of the giant golden dragon. Its "trainer" was leading it through the ceremony with a brighly colored ball of bait.
Once the dragons had swept by, a formation of beautiful Chinese maidens twirled paper lanterns and sang in their wake.
Following all that elegance and pomp and pageantry was a large, cartoonish, red pig. Its unblinking eyes and bloated, Verizon-sponsored belly announced the new year: year of the pig! (Corporate pig?)
Suddenly, multicolored confetti exploded into the air everywhere around me, falling from above and fluttering to the ground.
I stared at it on the sidewalk, temporarily stunned by all the various shades of color my eyes were just exposed to.
Looking around at the decorations hanging along the streets in the aftermath of the parade, I couldn't help but think to myself, "what a beautiful, lucky day."
I think a magical shisa is surely looking out for me. I hope one is looking out for you, too.
Happy Chinese New year!