Dragon in the New Year, Chinese Style

Dawson City has a fondness for parades. Canada Day and Discovery Day are the annual events with the longest history, but there have been Pride Parades, parades in support of the mining industry, and parades in support of Idle No More.

This year, however, Front Street and the Yukon River saw something new: a parade to help launch the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Goat. The start of the year was officially February 19, but Dawson started a couple of days early so that a Chinese dragon could wander the streets in celebration, and visit city council.

This event was the brainchild of Bo Yeung, who arrived here in the summer of 2011 and decided she would stay just long enough to see the winter. “I was curious about what it would be like to stay the winter,” she says. “I stayed till Christmas, and lo and behold I stayed the rest of the year, and then the next year came — and here I am in Dawson.” This is a familiar story.

The dragon project started with a conversation about Chinatown and the festivities of New Year’s in British Columbia, where she grew up after her family immigrated from Taiping, China, when she was a child. “I just said, ‘I’m going to make a dragon for Dawson.’ I started collecting fabrics from the thrift store.”

She sewed for two weeks, creating a 38-foot dragon body which was eventually held aloft by 11 people with hockey sticks, brooms, and other poles. “I was gonna go for 50 feet, but I ran out of fabric, so I figure that next year I can add on to it. This year’s the first one and next year it’ll just get longer and longer. “I wanted to be able to say it’s the world’s longest dragon, but someone in Ottawa made one 3000 feet long. I think we don’t even have that kind of population. So I figure I’ll make the most northern Arctic dragon.”

She’s going to see if we can make it into Guinness World Records. The 11 dragon-carriers and the 40 people who followed were fortunate for the warm spell after the extreme cold earlier in the month.

The dragon went to city council because Mayor Wayne Potoroka wanted to be in the parade but had a council meeting that night. Yeung says the stairs were a bit tricky in both directions.

She has a background in dragon dancing and line dancing, gained while participating in events such as the Chinese Freemasons’ celebrations in Kamloops and Vancouver. 

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