JACKSONVILLE, Ore. — Every year people flock and lanterns come out for Jacksonville’s Chinese New Year parade.
“The parade was awesome today,” said spectator Julia Schauer. “The colors, the diversity, everything about it was great.”
The event is an acknowledgment of the city’s history — steeped in Chinese culture from generations of laborers and miners. It’s also a time for businesses to draw customers from around the region.
“It’s a great shot in the arm for this time of year, which is usually pretty dead for most businesses in February unless you’re a florist or a candy person,” said Linda Graham, co-owner of the local Scheffel’s Toys and one of the original creators of the event.
Graham says that boon to business was part of the design from the beginning. Now in its eighth consecutive year, it has become something many of the downtown businesses can count on.
“It keeps on adding and adding and adding, and people have become enthusiastic about it,” said Graham. “They know that it’s here to stay.”
At the Jacksonville Inn, one of the city’s oldest businesses, they prepare specifically for this occasion.
“We designed the Chinese entrees, we decorated for the event, staffed for it, prepared for it,” said Platon Mantheakis, the Inn’s manager.
While it isn’t their biggest event of the year, he says that year’s parade was particularly impressive.
“I was surprised, this year was a really, really busy one,” said Mantheakis.
As for Graham, she is counting on the event continuing to grow. She says she intends for it to put Jacksonville on the map.
“I mean where else are you going to have hula dancers and bagpipers and Mexican dancers in a Chinese New Year parade,” said Graham. “I think it’s fantastic.”