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Chinatown Celebrates Year Of The Rabbit

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Chinese residents in Japan perform a lion dance, "biting" the heads of visitors (R) in the hopes it will bring them good luck, as they celebrate the Lunar New Year in Japan's largest Chinatown located in Yokohama, in suburban Tokyo on February 6, 2011. Thousands come out to enjoy the annual parade event to mark the start of the Lunar New Year, or Year of the Rabbit. (Photo credit: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Chinese residents in Japan perform a lion dance, “biting” the heads of visitors (R) in the hopes it will bring them good luck, as they celebrate the Lunar New Year in Japan’s largest Chinatown located in Yokohama, in suburban Tokyo on February 6, 2011. Thousands come out to enjoy the annual parade event to mark the start of the Lunar New Year, or Year of the Rabbit. (Photo credit: YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP/CBSNewYork) — Lion dancers, marching bands and 6-foot-tall pink bunnies paraded through the densely packed streets of Chinatown on Sunday as New York City celebrated the Year of the Rabbit.

Bright sunshine greeted the Lunar New Year Parade, a break from the snow and sleet of recent days.

“It’s a good day to get out because it’s not snowing on us anymore,” said spectator Charlie Botti of Denville, N.J.

GUIDE: Celebrate Chinese New Year In NYC

Organizers said more than 5,000 people marched in the parade, which took hours to wind through Chinatown in lower Manhattan.

Red and gold dragons were held aloft by teams of pole bearers, martial arts groups, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and beauty queens wearing fur coats over their cheongsams, the name for a Chinese form-fitting dress.

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Several dozen parents of children adopted in China marched together, each parent holding a sign with a map showing the Chinese province where his or her child was born.

Members of a contingent called Lunar New Year for Everyone waved rainbow flags and carried signs with slogans like, “I am lesbian and I respect my family.”

Organizer Karen Lee said the purpose of the group was “to show that New York City is a very inclusive community — it includes queer Asians as well.”

Elected officials including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and City Comptroller John Liu also marched.

The parade featured enough humans in rabbit suits to fill a convention of Easter Bunnies as well as a van full of real bunnies available for adoption.

“We’re giving out information about proper care,” said Cindy Stutts, an educator with the House Rabbit Society.

Stutts said rabbits are “perfect apartment pets” because they can be trained to use litter boxes like cats but are sociable like dogs.

The Year of the Rabbit began on Thursday; it is the Year 4709 for Chinese-Americans and others who celebrate the lunar year. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be articulate, ambitious and friendly.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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