Firecrackers and fireworks are illegal in New York City, but back when I took these pictures the Chinese people had an exemption for the Lunar New Year, I believe on religious grounds. The lion dances shown here made earplugs absolutely necessary because of the deafening fireworks that were thrown directly at the dancers. So many rolls of firecrackers were exploded that the streets were full of smoke and carpeted with red paper, as in the second photo. One year when I went to take photographs it had rained, so that the dye from the firecracker wrappings made the streets appear to be streaming with blood. The Giuliani administration cracked down on fireworks (forgive the pun), and after September 11 this kind of spectacle was definitely no longer allowed. A few years ago I went back to see the much tamer New Year parade and missed the freewheeling days when roving crews of lion dancers worked their way up and down Mott, Pell, and Elizabeth Street. Weather permitting, I’ll try this year’s parades in Flushing and Chinatown and will not neglect to pack earplugs just in case.