Chinese New Year parade negotiates Olympic roadblocks
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2009 | 11:43 AM PT
Organizers of Vancouver's Chinese New Year Parade say they are reorganizing the upcoming event to get around some roadblocks on the opening weekend of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
In years past up to 60,000 people have descended on Chinatown for the colourful event, but next year's 36th annual parade is scheduled for Feb.14, 2010 — the second day of competition for the Games.
And that means the organizers are dealing with a many new issues, because two of the main Olympic venues — BC Place and GM Place — and one of the Olympic transportation routes are just a few blocks away.
Muriel Honey, the manager of films and special events for the City of Vancouver, said negotiations are underway to ensure the parade goes ahead, but it is no simple task.
"This is an unusual event because there are six different organizations who are equal partners in putting it on and those are six different voices with layers of bureaucracy that you deal with, and there are cultural issues of course," said Honey.
The city has said the parade can go ahead but it must be over by 11 a.m. PT, an hour before the traditional start time. That means parade organizers need volunteers and spectators to arrive as early as 9 a.m. PT.
Organizers have also shortened the route by two blocks to fit the tighter timeline and won't be able to close all of Pender Street to traffic, because nearby Hastings Street is an official Olympic route, which must be kept open.
Because of the Olympics, parking in the area will also be extremely limited, along with police officers who are required to manage traffic for the parade.
But the organizers say there is an upside to holding the parade during the Games. They hope the convergence of the two events will be a great chance to show off an important part of Vancouver.
They also say it is fortunate there will be no Olympic hockey games that day at nearby GM Place, and they hope to draw thousands of Olympic visitors looking for something to do on Sunday morning.
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