Not liking the way Stockton's parade went out, I proceeded to go over to San Francisco for their Chinese New Year Parade, and it had everything I expected to see out of one, and then some. I greatly underestimated the amount of time the parade lasted (from watching youtube videos of past years I expected it to be more like an hour and a half).
Noting the following:
- On Grant Street, there were a number of booths (Graton, Thunder Valley) that requires your ID and also records it as well, even though the latter only has booth prizes. I don't know why they require it but I decided to avoid participating in them.
- Finding a spot 40-60 minutes before the actual parade starts is ideal.
- Get a seat if you can. If not, it is more of a test of endurance when standing up, and even more so when trying to get pictures of everything. Many cameras do not have the capability to get pictures through 1/3 of the parade if you're regularly taking them. SLRs might fare better. I was standing for well over three hours.
- Don't park at Portsmouth Square, you will get stuck there until the very end.
- Position is important: Near the beginning if you plan to eat at the SF Westfield Mall, near the end if you want to see more performances. They close at 9pm, less than 30 minutes after the last float comes out.
- I think I heard the song "Happy" played from at least three floats.