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SF elementary students set to welcome Year of the Rabbit in Chinese New Year Parade

SF Chinese New Year Parade: Students at Garfield Elementary get ready to march
SF Chinese New Year Parade: Students at Garfield Elementary get ready to march 03:41

SAN FRANCISCO – In the shadow of Coit Tower, students at Garfield Elementary School get ready to shine in another iconic San Francisco attraction, the annual Chinese New Year parade.

Garfield Elementary has marched in the parade for more than 10 years. This year, they're dressed as tiles in the classic Chinese game of mahjong, welcoming the Year of the Rabbit, under the direction of kindergarten teacher, Monica Lun.

 "I want them to feel proud, to be part of the school community," Lun beamed.

Students at Garfield Elementary in San Francisco practice for the 2023 Chinese New Year Parade, welcoming the Year of the Rabbit. CBS

It's Lun's first time directing the kindergarten through fifth grade students for the Chinese New Year parade. They've been rehearsing twice a week afterschool since December.

Students are soaking in the cultural importance of the game their costumes represent.

"It's not just a game to pass time," Lun said of mahjong, "It is actually a game that brings family and friends together."

In fact, the students learned how to play mahjong, which is similar to gin rummy. They discover life lessons along the way: like, you can't play if one tile is missing.

"So we being a mahjong tile set, we have to understand the importance of being in a team," explained Lun.

Some of the 50 parade participants are enrolled in Garfield's Chinese immersion program, which has been around for 12 years.

Six-year-old Julian Ow is one of the students. His mother, Ivy Ow, underscored the value of celebrating his ethnic heritage at the school.

"I'm a second-generation Chinese American, so it's very important for us to retain the culture and also the language," said Ivy Ow.

As for the kindergartener? He's simply happy to march in the parade.

"I'm very excited. From 1 to 100, I'm about 90," he said.

Only 90?

"Actually 99," he said, smiling.

Lun shares that excitement. Her own kids were past parade participants. For her, it's a heartfelt honor to share her Chinese traditions with the next generation.

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