Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hate crowds? Don't go to Chinatown


By some cruel twist of fate I woke up at 8:20 this morning. More than enough time for me to get by assets down to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year parade. I've always avoided going to Chinatown on weekends because it's twice as crowded as on weekdays - which are crowded enough for me.

This morning I thought that since I've been talking up the Chinese New Year festival here I should put in an appearance and take some photos. Now I'll be the first one to admit that I'm a crap photographer. My essential tremor makes my hands shake (especially my left) and there's no way for me to hold the camera steady. I guess I'm going to have to invest in a tripod but the thought of lugging one around on various forms of public transit doesn't thrill me. Anyway. I managed to snap 35 pictures of the parade. Most of which are unusable. Sigh. The picture at the right is one of the nicer ones.

The whole parade experience didn't impress me. Firstly, it started at 9:30 instead of the usual 11 am because Feb. 14th, in addition to being Valentine's Day, is the day there's a parade though the Downtown East Side in memory of all the women  who have gone missing from the area. Some of them ended up on Robert Picton's pig farm but there are still a lot missing. Because of that "march" the parade, which takes place on many of the same streets had to be completely finished by 11.

The second thing wrong was transit. Translink usually reroutes buses away from parade routes. This time they decided to stop the parade every time a bus came along. The people in charge of crowd control didn't talk to each other and sometimes told the crowd to do different things. It was a total pain in the ass. There are a lot of buses going down Main Street.

Which leads me to the third problem: the traditional parade route had to be changed because of the "no go" zones around Olympic venues. That meant that the parade crossed Main Street twice. It's not like they didn't have more than a year to plan this. Everybody involved knew exactly what was going on. One would think that the organizers would be just a bit more organized.

The final thing about the event that bugged me was the number of VANOC vehicles that decided they HAD to drive down Main. There are plenty of other ways to go but no. They had the parade stopped so they could drive. Where the hell were they all driving too anyway? There weren't any events on. From the number of autos that had only one person I'd say that VANOC is a long way from having a green Olympics.

I just thought of another thing that bugged me: a lot of the people in the parade were not smiling. They looked down right angry about being there. I just don't get it. Do some of these groups make participation in the parade mandatory? If you don't want to be there why are you? It's just sad. Lunar New Year is supposed to be a joyous time. Too bad there was no joy in Whoville. I guess the Olympic Grinch stole it.

Oddly enough the Seattle Times seems to have liked the same young lady I have pictured here. You can watch the short video.


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