San Franciscans turn ordinary events into grand spectacles. Every May, up to 100,000 costumed (and possibly drunk) runners race across town, and each month hundreds of bicyclists take over the city streets and then there's the annual convergence of belligerent Santas who descend on downtown at Christmastime. So when the largest Chinese New Year Parade outside of China starts today, consider donning your finest Sam Spade trench coat and fedora and taking to the streets in search of old-time San Francisco lore, hidden alleys, and city secrets. For 18 years the Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt has sent intrepid teams of amateur private dicks out into North Beach, Chinatown, and Telegraph Hill for a four-hour hunt for clues and locations drawn from the city's storied past. Teamwork and maps are a must, but the fun of hoofing it around town, searching for some obscure storefront from the Barbary Coast days as the dragon dances down Kearny and millions of firecrackers pop, makes this a worthy adventure for some 1,600 participants. Did we mention cake and champagne for the winning teams from each of three skill levels? And, of course, you win a year's worth of bragging rights.
Sat., Feb. 23, 4:30 p.m., 2008