Butte, Montana might be the place you’d least expect to find a Chinese New Year parade, but sure enough, every year Butte’s residents take to the streets with an authentic dragon to march through town. Billed as the shortest, the loudest and possibly the coldest Chinese New Year parade in the world, this quick route through historic Butte ends at the Mai Wah Museum where 10,000 firecrackers go off in a series of bangs. Until that point, people not carrying the dragon make a ruckus with noise makers. This year ‘s festivities are on Saturday, February 24.
Why a Chinese New Year parade in Butte? There used to be a hopping Chinatown here until discrimination laws made it too difficult for people of Chinese descent to make a living and they left for California and elsewhere.
The Mah Wah Museum is housed in what was once a noodle parlor and is run by the Mai Wah Society. The dragon, on display in the museum the rest of the year, was a gift from Taiwan. I’ve seen the dragon mounted on the wall, but never in action. It’s gorgeous.
Of all the small museums I’ve been to, Mai Wah is one of my favorites. The society’s website is full of fascinating information about this little talked about piece of American history when Western towns thrived thanks partly to a lot of sweat equity from Chinese laborers.
Here is an article about last year’s event.