The racing Hu's fill the streets of Liu Shi with pandemonium. (Jock Lauterer photo)
The racing Hu’s fill the streets of Liu Shi with pandemonium. (Jock Lauterer photo)

Suddenly outside the hotel, the street fills with pandemonium: fireworks blasting, drums beating, horns blaring, red flags waving — carried aloft by brightly-clad marchers, mostly elderly and carrying flags, spears, banners, lanterns — and most distinctly, shoulder-borne litters of sacred shrines, carried by teams of ten men each.

It’s the annual Hu family homage to their ancestors, I’m told, and all the Hu’s in Liu Shi come out to march.

I felt as if I’d been beamed into a Chinese version of a Dr. Seuss book.

Smoke! Firecrackers by the hundreds loose in the streets! Rockets firing skyward from multiple cannisters! And not a single cop or traffic safety officer in sight.

At parade’s end, the four teams of competing Hu’s race around a central altar, bearing the shrines like a mini-NASCAR dirt-track race. Hundreds of Hu’s are cheering, sweating, smiling.

Utter chaos, noise, excitement and fun. I love it.

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