There are 14 floats ready to pounce for Saturday’s 2022 SF Chinese New Year Festival and Parade. Here’s a sneak preview of this year’s finest Year of the Tiger floats, and They're Grrrreat!
There will indeed be a 2022 San Francisco Lunar New Year Parade this Saturday, after last year’s parade was canceled for COVID-19 precautions. And with the parade start time just 96 hours away, the float-building crew at The Parade Guys are working around the clock to build a fresh new fleet of Year of the Tiger-themed floats that will be fit for America’s largest and longest-running Chinese New Year Parade.
The float team gave SFist a sneak preview of this year’s floats, but these images do not show the floats in the full glory they’ll have on Saturday night. “The floats are going to look completely different when you see them on the parade route, because they’re all going to have these different lit-up elements that you’re not seeing right now,” says Parade Guys owner and creative director Stephanie Mufson.
“This is one of the only night time parades in the country,” she explains. “The lighting element really comes into all of the floats that you see, because it is a nighttime parade."
And it’s not just lighting, there will also be animatronics, like with this regal huge tiger on the Alaska Airlines float. “There are a couple moving elements,” Mufson tells us. "He moves. He looks back and forth and surveys the audience.”
Ditto for this T-Mobile float. “It feels a little simple in daylight,” she says. (NOTE: This does not feel simple!) “But this whole thing lights up and it creates this beautiful ambiance. Basically, the whole float is a lantern.”
And we can’t wait to see the moves on the Hyundai robot tiger float.
On some floats, the lights are the feature, like for this Bank of America float that will really bring the razzle-dazzle. “We used CNC machines to cut out a giant wood puzzle tiger which we have put together and thrown LED strips across,” Mufson explains. “There’s probably a hundred LED strips across that wooden tiger. And then the box that he’s on is plexiglass and it’s filled with disco balls. So as it moves, it’s casting light all over the place, referencing the look of water."
And look at that lil’ baby Salesforce tiger! That lil baby Salesforce tiger is actually far larger than a full-grown adult tiger.
And yes, that float is equipped with a working replica of the Salesforce Tower. “There is some fancy lighting happening to sort of reminisce on the light-up aspect of the actual Salesforce Tower,” she says. “It has a fireworks effect that references the new year and the celebration.”
This giant plate of noodles is another standout detail on a larger and far more elaborate float that also has oranges and a teapot. “This is for Lucky Supermarkets,” Mufson tells us. “We always like to play up the food aspect of the culture and how important food is on this holiday.”
“The bowl of noodles is a very creative use of foam noodles that you could buy at any hardware store, typically used for insulation. But painted by the right artist, it suddenly becomes a delicious bowl of noodles.”
And this year, Caesars Hotel and Casino gets a float with no expense spared on the gold coins.
But it’s the return of the SF Lunar New Year that a financially beleaguered Chinatown is counting to shower it with gold coins and red envelopes. “It’s definitely a weird and challenging year,” Mufson tells SFist. “We’re working with a smaller crew than normal, we’re doing everything to be really safe. It’s been challenging in a new way, but also really great to be back at it.”
Images: Joe Kukura, SFist