NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – The Year of the Rat was celebrated in Chinatown Sunday at the annual Lunar New Year Parade, with thousands turning out despite fears over the coronavirus that have impacted businesses in the neighborhood in recent weeks.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Chuck Schumer were among those attending the parade, which saw Mott Street covered in red and gold confetti and ribbons.
“We know in China, so many of our loved ones are facing the challenges of the coronavirus, but we stand together,” de Blasio said.
"We love the fact that so many people come from all around the globe and make our city and our country a better place," Schumer said.
De Blasio and other city officials sent a strong message of unity. Parade floats had signs on them saying “Stay Strong Wuhan”—the Chinese city that is the epicenter of a coronavirus outbreak.
Gloria Pang from Brooklyn took her kids to the parade for the first time.
“I have a little concern, but I guess the spirit really makes the fear subside a little bit,” Pang said.
April Harris and her daughter Hailey were vising New York for the first time from Alabama. They were well aware of the coronavirus concerns but were not worried at all.
“We’re here to support Chinatown. We’re here to support our country. And we’re not afraid. We’re having a great time,” Harris said.
“Despite #coronavirus fear mongering, today's #LunarNewYear parade in Chinatown is a joyous show of pride,” Councilmember Mark Levin tweeted from the parade.
Yvonne Luo’s said her wish for the New Year is to fly back to China in the coming months.
“I hope they get better so I can come back to China,” she said.
There are no known cases of coronavirus in New York or New Jersey.
The death toll in China surpassed 800 this weekend, and the confirmed number of cases in China are well above 30,000.