Band leads Lunar New Year Parade to welcome Year of the Rabbit


Joseph Zuloaga '23

The Crusader Marching Band charges up Stockton Street during the parade.

Joseph Zuloaga '23, Editor-in-Chief

The loud chants of A-R-H-S. The light, crisp rain falling on the pristine purple marching uniforms. Red firecrackers punctuating the celebrations.

The sound of Comin’ Alive along Geary Street added to the extra dose of Riordan spirit at this year’s SF Chinese New Year Parade on Feb. 4, with alumnus actor Rich Ting ’98 serving as the Grand Marshal, and the ARHS Crusader Marching Band & Color Guard officially opening the parade ans serenading the crowd in Downtown SF.

The Riordan Band returned to the parade for the first time since 2020. Director of Bands Kyle Hildebrant stated, “It felt good to be back to the sense of normalcy we once had before.”

With this parade being the biggest in San Francisco and the second largest in California, Associate Director of Bands Lance Ohnmeiss commented on how both the Band and Color Guard get outreach from the state, due to the parade being televised on KTVU.

“The Band has participated in the parade for 20+ years, taking part in a big tradition not only for the city but for Riordan to participate in, as it is the biggest community reach outs we have,” Hildebrant added.

All of the band members had unique experiences playing in the parade. Flutist Ella Torrea ’25 commented in how the band hadn’t marched in the rain or at night before, but that she enjoyed “getting the support from the crowd, seeing and hearing them cheer us on.”

Drum Major Jameson Datoc ’23 stated, “Even though it was short, it was sweet as It was amazing to see a lot of happy people lining the streets. We felt great being a part of the city and living in the moment.”

They made me feel like a king”

— Grand Marshal Rich Ting '98

“Growing up going to the parade was something, but being in it was truly something else,”Color Guard Captain Diane Lai ’24 said. She compared the energy levels to the Italian Heritage Parade and St. Patrick’s Day Parade combined.

Grand Marshal Rich Ting ’98 stated that it was honor for him to be elected Grand Marshal of the Chinese New Year. “It was even a bigger honor to lead the [Riordan Band] down Market Street to the opening of the parade…in Union Square. To have my high school band playing and marching behind me was the ultimate highlight of the night.”

He continued, “They made me feel like a king with the best entourage anyone could wish for behind me. I never once thought I would have the opportunity to not only be the Grand Marshal but to also be able to shine a light on my high school that I am so proud to have graduated from. It was a complete full circle moment for me as I listened to the Riordan Band and watched them march pass me after the opening fireworks celebration.” Ting concluded by saying that he couldn’t have been more proud to be a Riordan alumnus at that moment.

Ohnmeiss stated, “[Having Rich Ting] as grand marshal from Riordan was instrumental in showing how much of a melting pot Riordan is and how important it is to the Chinese-American and Asian-American community as a whole.”

Hildebrant said, “Having someone who was instrumental on putting Riordan at the forefront of a parade based in the city, and to be the largest high school marching band in the city to lead it off, was the best part of the parade. Since we hadn’t done the parade for a couple of years, to have the opportunity to be in the front was pretty awesome.”

This year’s parade will hold special meaning as it allowed for the Riordan spirit to be vividly present in one of the biggest cultural traditions in San Francisco.