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So wet. ... So what?

Dressed in black and holding poles with large dragon puppets attached, dancers Saturday zigzagged across California Street in Jacksonville.

The dragons were among dozens of performers in the annual Chinese New Year parade, attended by hundreds of people despite steady rainfall.

"The dragons were his favorite," said Emily Striley, pointing to her 4-year-old son Corbin.

"Amazing," Corbin said.

Striley said the family hadn't missed the annual event in three or four years, and they weren't deterred by a little rain.

"I wasn't surprised by the good turnout," she said. "We live in Oregon. We love the rain and we're happy for it."

The celebration included a "galloping" 5K run, a parade and many demonstrations, with dozens of local community groups joining in to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Horse.

"It was really fun," said McLoughlin Middle School student Sylvia Delsman. "And my sister was in the parade."

Delsman's younger sister Ellen danced through the parade as a cheerleader with Fancy Paws, a noncompetitive youth cheerleading group.

A corps of hula dancers were Delsman's favorite performers in the half-hour parade, she said.

"My grandma is Hawaiian, so when we were little we always heard Hawaiian stories," the 13-year-old said. "It's fun to see stuff that was in our picture books when we were little."

The event, organized by the Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association, was well attended considering the weather, according to SOCCA secretary Maureen Smith, who manned a merchandise table during the celebration.

"The rain kind of slowed us down a little but not too bad," Smith said.

After the parade, crowds huddled inside venues across Jacksonville for workshops on acupuncture, feng shui, tai chi and other Chinese topics.

Artist Yeh Fei Pai did a live mural-painting presentation in the U.S. Hotel ballroom, showing his unique splash ink brush-painting style.

In the Jacksonville library, Ashland residents Shannon and Herb Harris joined a dozen other people for a demonstration in calligraphy by Fuyou Long, an author and graduate of the People's University in China.

"As an art form, this is pretty interesting," said Herb Harris.

The couple watched as Long described the different types of calligraphy brushes, paper and writing styles while an assistant demonstrated the traditional Asian writing technique.

Shannon Harris said it was the first time she was able to make it to the celebration in about four years, and she was impressed with the turnout.

"It was good to see all these folks perform in the rain," she said. "If they were willing to come out, we were willing to watch, and it seemed like most of them were having fun."

Teresa Ristow is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email her at teresa.ristow@gmail.com.

Parade attendees endured the rain during Jacksonville's Chinese New Year celebration. - Julia Moore