02/17/2013 05:33 EST | Updated 04/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Lion dancers and federal NDP leader celebrate Chinese New Year in Vancouver

VANCOUVER - Lion dance teams, marching bands and martial artists wove through Vancouver's Chinatown on Sunday to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also joined the 40th annual parade, helping to ring in the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar.

Mulcair also marked the occasion by launching a social media account that is popular among Chinese-Canadians, called Weibo.

He says he made the effort hoping to connect directly with the large online community, and is looking forward to hearing the issues they face.

Staff members will translate the posts on Mulcair's behalf.

The Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver says the event is one of the three largest non-commercial annual parades in the city, and tends to draw about 3,000 participants and 50,000 spectators.