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Dragons Ring in 2024
A new dragon joins the run
January 2, 2024

t 7:30p, maybe a hundred or so people milled about Hodges Street. Within the next 30 minutes, the crowd would swell to near a thousand.

The Dragon, with a few new light additions, waits under the tent for their big moment.

The Drumming Dragons were setting up on a flatbed trailer facing the harbor. A fog machine nearby periodically clouded the road.

Down at the intersection of South Water and Hodges Street, sat a white tent. Inside waited the New Year’s Eve dragon, ready for the big night.

Two drummers survey the gathering crowd.

Other dragons can be seen around town – the Chinese Dragon comes out during the Chinese New Year, the Dragon Burn, and for parades.

The town’s newest Dragon resident – Mizuchi – appeared in the harbor two years ago as part of the Kayak Flotilla.

The Dragon entering the crowd early on New Year’s Eve.
Mayor Sally Belangia escorts The Dragon to Hodges Street.

But The Dragon – the New Year’s Dragon – is only seen in public once a year, on the last day of the year.

At 8p, revelers lined the harbor, banging pots and pans, playing drums, and making noise to coax The Dragon from its lair.

A Chinese Dragon dances above the crowd.
Two Dragons meet in the midst of the crowd.

Crowds pressed close, eager to touch the dragon in hopes of gaining luck for the New Year.

From the other end of the road came not one, but two smaller, slender Chinese Dragons. And, in its New Year’s Eve debut, the water dragon Mizuchi.

Mizuchi on maneuvers in the crowd.
A young percussionist watching the crowd from The Bean steps.

The dragons met midway on Hodges Street, exchanged greetings, and kept moving through the crowds. From one end of the road to the other, and back again.

Those that could stay up late enough were treated to a more personal and up close encounter with the dragons – the crowds had thinned out considerably.

Reaching out for good luck.
The Croaker, sparkling with all new lights. (Tommy Myatt photo)

Above it all hung the Croaker, wrapped in strings of colored lights. (The Croaker is Oriental’s answer to the ball drop common elsewhere.) Just before midnight, the croaker is slowly lowered, ushering out the last ten seconds of 2023.

Dragons and Croaker are then retired for the night, to rest until the next big event.

Mizuchi gives a look while passing the New Year’s Dragon.
The dragon stopped to greet a kid waving from their dad’s shoulders.
The two Chinese Dragons meet midway on Hodges Street.
The Croaker, above it all.

Posted Tuesday January 2, 2024 by Allison DeWeese

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