One thing is for certain in Paris, if you see a crowd forming down a street, go there. There will always be something interesting going on. One Sunday I was walking around Paris near the Hôtel de Ville mourning the fact that it was Mardi Gras weekend in New Orleans. I needed a parade fix. Wouldn’t you know it, as if it I had magical powers, I saw a large group of people moving down a street. Following my basic Paris math equation of: Paris + crowd = fun, I took off down the street. The loose crowd congealed into a large tight mass snaking itself down one of the main streets. I saw others cutting off a block and running down a parallel side street. I took the path of least resistance and went down the side street. As I looked up each cross street the crowd got thicker and thicker. Eight streets up I was in front of the large group and cut right to head them off.
I arrived at the main street to witness thousands of people celebrating the Chinese new year. The parade was marching up the center of the street and featured hundreds of costumed Chinese carrying signs and lighting millions of firecrackers. I have previously witnessed Fourth of July celebrations in the states where kids light a few strings of firecrackers to annoy their parents with the noise. But nothing can compare to the sound of a hundred thousand firecrackers going off at the same time. Humongous strings were lit. The firecrackers filled the street with smoke as their explosions created a roar that echoed between the tall buildings. The sound can only be compared to a hundred high speed machine guns shooting off a million shells in fifteen seconds. Even a block away you had to cover your ears.
I needed costumes, floats, and music, and here it was. After taking a few photos I jumped out of the crowd and mixed into the parade and marched down the street. All of the revelers were shouting slogans in French and Chinese. I didn’t understand anything they were chanting so I started my one and went down the street chanting “Go – Ho Chi Min.” Apparently, I got my Asian revolutionaries mixed up and should have been yelling something against Mao Tse-Tung.