This is the Chinese Lunar Year
The Year of the Monkey
The Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is the largest celebration of its kind outside of Asia. It is also considered one of the top ten parades in the world. Over 100 units, including 27 floats, are feature in this year's theme, "the Year of the Monkey". The parade highlights include elaborately decorated floats, school marching bands, martial arts group, stilt walkers, lion dancers, Chinese acrobatics, the newly crowned Miss Chinatown U.S.A. and the Golden Dragon ("Gum Lung"). The Golden Dragon is over 200 feet long, made with layers of silk, gauze and velvet which cover a bamboo frame. It is carried by a team of over a 100 men and women. It's always featured at the end of the parade as the grand finale and will be accompanied by over 600,000 firecrackers.
By clicking on them you will bring up a larger JPEG view of them.
The Chinese animal signs are a 12-year cycle used for dating the years. They represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the Western linear concept of time. The Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the Western solar calendar. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February. The twelve animal signs in order are: