A nest of Cupertino students will slither their way along the parade route of what is arguably the largest such celebration of its kind; one that draws more than 3,000,000 spectators and viewers, according to the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade.
Students in the Cupertino Language Immersion Program at Meyerholz Elementary and Miller Middle Schools will perform in the parade an interpretation of the Legend of Madame White Snake in honor of the Year of the Snake.
It is the ninth year the schools have performed in the parade.
The following story behind the famous legend, offered to Patch by Eileen Voon, explains how the students will tell the tale with their parade performance:
Bai Suzhen (白素貞) is a thousand-year-old white snake spirit. She and her sister, the green snake spirit, take the form of maidens to live among the humans. The white snake maiden falls in love with a mortal, only to be pursued by the spirit hunter, Fa Hai, who is determined to imprison her. The green snake maiden comes to the aid of her sister and the two of them fight together for their freedom to love and live in the mortal world.
We choose to focus on the theme of unity in the story. Although the sisters grew apart as a result of the white snake’s love affair with a mortal man, when the spirit hunter pursues the white snake maiden, the green snake maiden puts aside her jealousy and feelings of abandonment and comes to the aid of her sister.
Leading the way are custom built and student-decorated snakes, one representing the white snake and the other representing her sister the green snake. The snakes, who wish to become human, are pursued by spirit hunters who want to imprison them for crossing into the mortal world. The synchronized movements of the snakes represent the bonds of friendship.
Following in their wake are students who are re-enacting the struggle between the spirit hunters and the snakes who have taken the form of human maidens. The maiden costumes are reminiscent of the gowns worn by women during the Song Dynasty, while the spirit hunters wear costumes inspired by Shaolin monk robes.
The ribbons twirled by the maidens represent the magical power used to battle the spirit hunters. This story celebrates the strength of unity and the bonds of friendship.
Bringing up the rear of the unit are percussionists whose powerful drum beats and cymbal clashings underscore the dramatic struggle.
(Watch the attached video to see the children in practice.)
The Chinese New Year Parade begins at 5:15 p.m. on Feb. 23 at Second and Market Streets in San Francisco. It will also appear on KTVU Fox 2 or KTSF Channel 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For a parade route, parking and other parade information go http://www.chineseparade.com.
More articles on Lunar, or Chinese New Year, appear on our Topic Page, Lunar New Year.