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Celebrating the 144th Annual Bok Kai Parade

by Abbey Anderson

As the dragon takes center stage this year, Marysville gears up to celebrate the 144th Annual Bok Kai Parade on March 9th, making it the longest-running parade in California, a testament to the community's resilience and diversity.

A Tradition Born from Hope and Harmony

The origins of the Bok Kai Parade trace back to the 1850s, when Chinese immigrants, seeking protection from flooding for the town, began honoring Bok Kai, the Chinese water god. This tradition has flourished over the centuries, with members of the Bok Kai temple actively participating and keeping the spirit and purpose of the celebration alive. This cultural event has grown to attract visitors from all over, drawn to Marysville to witness a vibrant display of Chinese lore right in the heart of California. The parade, a colorful procession that includes traditional music and dance, begins at the intersection of D and 6th Streets at 11 AM, moving south through town to end at the historic Bok Kai temple on D and 1st Streets.

The Bok Kai Temple: A Monument to Cultural Heritage

The Bok Kai temple, where the parade concludes, stands as a monument to the earliest Chinese settlers in this region of California. Built in 1854, it served as a place of worship and community, symbolizing the rich cultural mosaic brought to California during the Gold Rush. Today, it invites visitors to explore its history and significance, offering a tangible connection to the past and a space for reflection.

March 9: A Day of Spectacle and Spirit

The parade starts at 11 AM, transforming the streets from 6th and D down to 2nd and C into a vibrant tableau of culture and joy. Expect the air to be filled with the sounds of lion dancing, the pop and crackle of firecrackers, and the awe-inspiring sight of the dragon dance. These moments are more than just performances; they're the heartbeat of our community and showcase the rich tapestry of cultures that make up the Yuba-Sutter area.

Continuing the Celebration: The Bok Kai Festival

As the parade concludes, the festivities are far from over. The Bok Kai Festival takes place from 2 PM to 8 PM at the Woodbutcher line, offering everyone a chance to enjoy outdoor music, savor delicious food, and relish the camaraderie that this event fosters. The day ends with a bang as fireworks light up the night sky, a perfect crescendo to a day of jubilation.

March 10: More Than Just a Parade

The excitement rolls into the next day with the Car Show & Rib Cook-Off, promising a blend of automotive brilliance and culinary competition that has something for everyone. And then, there's Bomb Day, an explosive tradition that captures the essence of our community's spirit and history, taking place at 4 PM at 1st and C Streets.

Why the Bok Kai Parade Matters

For 144 years, the Bok Kai Parade has been more than just an event; it's a pillar of our community's identity and a bridge between generations. It's a celebration that pays homage to our history while embracing the present and looking forward to the future. This isn't just Yuba-Sutter's story; it's a narrative shared by everyone who joins us, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Join us for the 144th Annual Bok Kai Parade and be part of a tradition that continues to inspire and unite us all.

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