by Cheryl L. Guerrero

Firecrackers and lanterns lit up the streets Saturday evening as San Francisco celebrated the Lunar New Year with its annual Chinese New Year Parade.

Our Chinese New Year Parade is one of the only nighttime illuminated parades in the country, and consistently places in USA Today’s "Top 5 Best Cultural Festivals."

The parade is part of the month-long Lunar New Year festivities in and around Chinatown that also include a flower market, basketball jamboree, public art project, Miss Chinatown pageant, and the community street fair, which also happened this past weekend.

This Lunar New Year began on February 10th and heralds the Year of the Dragon. The fifth animal in the Chinese zodiac, the dragon symbolizes prosperity, luck, wisdom, and strength.

Awkwafina, the award-winning actress, writer, and producer, served as this year’s Grand Marshal.

"I’m so excited to celebrate with our community," Awkwafina said in a statement. "Having been born in the year of the dragon, I look forward to fostering growth and progress that the upcoming year will bring us."

Here are more scenes from Saturday's celebrations:

Children from Yick Wo Elementary School in San Francisco. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The Aptos Middle School contingent. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The Alaska Airlines contingent. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Children from Gordon J. Lau Elementary School. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The Cal Poly Marching Band. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The Graton Resort & Casino float. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Children from Jose Ortega Elementary School. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Children from Meng Kung Fu. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Miss Chinatown USA Tara Wong-Nash and former Mayor Willie Brown. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
San Gabriel Valley Chinese Cultural Association Lion and Dragon team. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The SFPD's Lion Dance Team. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The Shaolin Temple contingent. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
The West Coast Lion Dance Troupe. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
A member of the contingent from the West County Mandarin School. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
WWII Pacific Memorial Hall Dummers. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Yau Kung Moon Kung Fu Lion and Dragon Dance Association. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Yau Kung Moon Kung Fu Lion and Dragon Dance Association. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Yau Kung Moon Kung Fu Lion and Dragon Dance Association. Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero
Photo by Cheryl L. Guerrero