Academy Students & Faculty to Participate in 2017 Chinese New Year Parade


Mateo Tayamen works on the lighting for the Academy's float. Photo by Bob Toy.

Chinese New Year on Saturday, Jan. 28, marked the beginning of the Year of the Rooster. The festivities in San Francisco will culminate with the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday, Feb. 11. Once again, Academy of Art University will ring in the annual celebration by showcasing an outstanding student collaboration project. Students from multiple disciplines are working together, creating the intricately decorated float, original theme music and live performance.

This year will be the 159th anniversary of the Lunar New Year Parade in San Francisco, which is the largest of its kind celebrated outside of China. Last year, more than 2,500 marchers cramped Union Square. The Academy’s involvement in the event began 15 years ago with the goal of embracing the vibrant culture of the city.

“When students can’t celebrate the Spring Festival back at home, they can celebrate it here by going to the parade or even participate in the production,” said Academy of Art University Publications and Special Project Manager Bob Toy, who is also the art director of the float. He encourages all students to sign up to be a part of next year’s Chinese New Year parade team. Under his leadership, since 2014, the Academy has been recognized by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce with the Most Artistic Float Award.


Photo by Bob Toy.


Photo by Bob Toy.


Photo by Bob Toy.

Honoring the tenth Chinese zodiac sign, Toy and his team are focusing more on the traditional symbolism of the Fire Rooster itself. According to the legend in China, the Jade Emperor held a swimming race on his birthday, and the first 12 animals across a fast-flowing river would each have a year of the zodiac named after them. The rooster found a raft and became one of the winners by working together with the goat and monkey. Since then, people born in the Year of Rooster would be known as resourceful, hardworking, perfectionists and confident.

Many Academy students and faculty members are participants in the 2017 parade production. School of Fine Art faculty Camille Lyons helped with the float design and mask painting. Faculty David Sekoll led his fine art–sculpture students—Chingyao Chang, Roylander Williams Jr., Peiling Shi, Hongyang Zhu and Katerina Salsman—in the rooster sculpture welding and fabrication. Lyons and her husband, Stephen Lyons, are responsible for the lighting, which will brighten the night-illuminating spectacle.

Students from the School of Acting—Aliyah Rosario, Chance Howard and Sarah Hathaway—are busy getting into character as roosters. B.F.A. 3-D animation and environmental modeling student Theresa Nguy, who is also the 2016 Miss Chinatown USA Fourth Princess, will also make an appearance.


School of Fine Art faculty Camille Lyons paints the rooster heads that will be worn by the School of Acting students during this year’s parade. Photo by Bob Toy.


Stephen Lyons works on the lighting for the Academy's float. Photo by Bob Toy.


Bob Toy works on the decorations for this year's float. Photo courtesy of Bob Toy.

“In the Academy, you can collaborate with other students from various majors,” said M.F.A. music production student Shi Jia, who composed 10 tracks of traditional percussion instruments for this parade. “This kind of environment is important for you to practice for the professional world in the future. I feel like studying here is a very good start for my career.”

The procession of the Academy’s float and other performances such as the lion dance, and 268-foot-long Golden Dragon will weave their way through 2nd and Market Streets, travel up to Chinatown and end on Jackson and Kearny Streets. The Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade will begin at around 5 p.m. and last until 8 p.m. Rain or shine, grab your friends and come watch the festivities!

The Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade will be broadcast live on KTVU FOX 2 and KTSF 26 on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6p.m. Encore newscasts of the parade also air on KTVU Plus on the same day at 9 p.m.. and on KTVU FOX 2 on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1 p.m.