Nónglì xīnnián kuàilè! Or as we Chicagoans say “Happy Lunar New Year” or “Happy Chinese New Year” if you will. This day is literally one of my FAVORITE days of the year (Christmas and Mardi Gras excluded), so colorful, so cultural, so loud and oh so entertaining! Although Lunar New Year in Chinatown draws in larger crowds and has a larger parade, the parade on Argyle Street in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood is definitely worth a visit. Less crowded, surrounded by amazing Vietnamese (Hello Pho!) and Chinese eateries and a mere 10 minute bus ride from my apartment makes this parade Pho-nominal (please excuse that horrible joke)
Argyle has been throwing a Lunar New Year parade for decades now. Despite Uptown quickly gentrifying, Argyle Street not only survives but continues to thrive as an Asian enclave. Argyle has recently been turned into a shared street (the first one in the city!)and the change has been incredible. Each year new ethnic eateries continue to open not only on Argyle, but on Broadway as well.
You’ll see big wigs here too, above is alderman Harry Osterman, who’s been running the 48th ward since 2011. He picked up the torch from his mother, Kathy Osterman who ran the ward from 1987-1989. You may recognize the name Kathy Osterman, as in Kathy Osterman Beach. Yes! The gayest beach in Chicago (Hollywood Beach) has the honor of officially being named after the gayest friendly alderman of the time.
As stated earlier, this parade isn’t nearly as long as the one in Chinatown. It roughly lasts about 15 minutes but the festival lasts two hours (many people follow the parade route as it loops around the central portion of Uptown. Following the parade is totally up to you, I personally get distracted by the AMAZING food options on Argyle. Tank Noodle, Chiu Quon Bakery, Miss Saigon Restaurant, Ba Le Sandwich Shop, Sun Wah BBQ, First Sip Café……… I can go on and on. Argyle Street is a foodie’s avenue of
The CTA float is always one of favorite year after year. Who doesn’t love a miniature train?
However, despite being the northside’s epicenter for Asian eateries. There is much more to Argyle than simply stuffing your face. There are plenty of ethnics shops to visit, offering a range of goods from knickknacks (my kryptonite) to beauty products(J&S Cosmetics) or home goods. Q Ideas is not to be missed for great house décor and plants. I could literally live in that store, it’s that adorbs.
Social organizations also have a presence on Argyle. The Chinese Mutual Aid Association is located here and provides social services to those in need. They also have been hosting the annual “Dim Sum and Then Some” 5k for a few years, which takes place every May and is fun AF. Other runs just give you a medal when you complete it. The Dim Sum and Then Some 5k gives you a takeout box of dim sum! My stomach will always run for food, no lying about that!
And everyone is welcomed at Lunar New Year. The crowd it lures is as diverse as Uptown itself. New and old Asian immigrants, recent newcomers to Uptown (gentrifiers) suburbanites on a day trip, young, old and more recently a visibile gay presence (represent Gaysians!). Argyle Street still continues to be welcoming to all. The community has remained united and strong against improaching gentrification and is a perfect example of a community thriving despite being surrounded by change.
Argyle Street is always a wonderful place to visit, anytime of the year. During the summer they host the Night Market, where you can go shopping for goods while being entertained by live bands. If you’ve never been, it’s a great way to spend a balmy summer night.
There’s always something going on here, come to eat, come to go shopping or come to simply stroll through a thriving slice of Asia on the northside, Argyle Street is truly a gem.