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Despite Coronavirus Fears, Show Goes On At Lunar New Year Parade In Chinatown

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Amid the coronavirus chaos, Chinatown has seen fewer visitors.

But city officials say there's no reason to be concerned.

On Sunday, hundreds of people flocked to the area for the Lunar New Year Parade, CBS2's Christina Fan reported.

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The 21st parade kicked off as it does every year, with enthusiastic lion dancers and dragon puppets weaving through the air.

Lunar New Year Parade
Hundreds of people showed up for the Lunar New Year Parade on Feb. 9, 2020, in Chinatown. (Photo: CBS2)

But this year, there was a new rallying cry, a more important reason to be marching together.

"武汉加油 ... means good luck Wuhan," one person said.

"All across the country and the world, fears over the deadly coronavirus have led to the cancellation of Lunar New Year celebrations. The disease originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan two months ago and has already killed hundreds. But the show went on in New York City. Sunday's marchers said they were thinking of those suffering back home.

"We want to support Chinatown, China, and Wuhan. Be China strong. It's why we decided to come three days ago," said Kali Mo of the New York Chinese Qipao Association.

So far, no suspected cases in New York City have tested positive, but businesses, especially restaurants, have seen a significant decline in customers. They say xenophobia is at a high.

"The reservation was booked the week prior. The day of, the party actually called to cancel, because one of the members did not want to go to Chinatown. Right after that we realize, okay, it's going to be a snowball effect," said Andy Lau of Noree Thai Bazaar.

But worries about disease did little to dampen the spirits of those who came to watch and celebrate on Sunday.

"It's great that even though there's like this virus that's scaring a lot of people, that there is still a chance for people to come out and unite," said Isaac Platt Zolov of Brooklyn.

As families cast their wishes for the next year, asking for good health, happiness, and prosperity, a stop to the coronavirus at the top of everyone's mind.

City officials are urging people to continue visiting Chinatown. On Saturday, the commissioner of Small Business Services dined at a restaurant on Mott Street.

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