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Oakland’s Chinatown celebrates the year of the ox

Majestic red dragons and white metallic Lions danced and leapt their way down Webster Street in downtown Oakland Aug. 22 and 23, as drums kept the beat and children clapped along.

The traditional white crane lion dance, which involves martial artists performing acrobatic feats and graceful high jumps inside a oversized lions head, was part of the 22nd Annual Oakland Chinatown Streetfest, celebrating the year of the Ox.

The festival, which spanned eight blocks, was founded in 1988 as a way to reach out to the local community and showcase the area’s vibrancy and diversity.

“I never come down to Chinatown,” said first-time attendee Deborlee Watson, 25, who brought her dog Milo along for festivities on Saturday.

“This place has got lots of energy, but Milo doesn’t like the dragons at all.”

The streetfest featured small rides, bounces houses and booths where children received hands-on art instruction and local vendors brought their wares, outside their store fronts and onto the streets to display.

Visitors also enjoyed a variety of performances, spanning all continents, ranging from Taiko Drum demonstrations, Tahitian and Latin dancing, and a second stage where families let loose to the ska stylings of Rock Steady, a No Doubt Tribute band.

The award winning Leung’s White Crane Lion dance troop also performed to large crowds several times throughout the day.

The festival is put on every year by the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, since it draws a crowd of several thousand to businesses in the area.