Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Chinatown celebrates the new year

More than 125,000 people from around Southern California flocked to Los Angeles’ Chinatown on the weekend of February 16th to watch and participate in the 114th Annual Chinese New Year Parade and Lunar New Year Festival.

“[The Chinese New Year] is probably the biggest holiday in Asian culture […] it’s a chance to start over again and to hopefully bring a year of good luck to you and your family,” said Michael Trang of San Gabriel who attended the festival with his family for the first time this year.

The procession displayed martial art performers, Asian musicians, dancers, and several marching bands; including one from Beijing, China.

It was a “beautiful Southern California day” said Al Soo-Hoo, a customs broker and life-long festival participant who grew up in the Chinatown community.

The weekend-long festival also featured: carnival rides, food trucks, local breweries, fireworks, performances, and Chinese cultural artisans.

“Gong Hei Fat Choy, Xīn Nián Kuài Lè, Feliz Año Nuevo, Happy New Year everyone”, exclaimed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish and English.

L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa served as one of the grand marshals of the parade, along with L.A. Police Department Chief Charlie Beck and County Sheriff Lee Baca.

For many residents, the yearly festivities celebrate the unity of diverse cultures in the community. “I like going to events throughout the city so it’s just cool to be a part of it,” said local Francine Natale.

The parade also had an international presence including Ballet Folklorico as well as guests from Japan, Cambodia, Korea and Vietnam.

“I love it, I feel a sense of community. Different groups and organizations getting together, celebrating in the hot sun,” said Trang.

This year marks the 4,711th year of Chinese civilization. According to the 12-year Chinese zodiacal calendar, 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake.

The calendar has assigned each year to one of 12 animals in Chinese legend. Each of these animals were said to have been participants in a race where each of their personalities and qualities were displayed.

“Each animal has its own characteristic. They say that if you were born in the year of the snake, and this is your year, it tends to be a bad luck year [for you]. But snakes have a lot of good characteristics, they are very cunning, smart, and quick witted,” said Trang.

The Year of the Snake theme was represented in several parts of the exhibition. Floats were adorned with large serpents and snake symbols. Many other symbolic Chinese animals were present in the parade such as the Dragon, the Lion, and the Rabbit.

Natale, who was joyfully setting off confetti cannons in the street commented, “I love the dragons and when the dragon dancers come through”.

According to Chinese tradition, the lion and dragon dances bring good luck.

The 15-day New Year Festival began on Sunday, February 10 with the lighting of incenses in the Buddhist and Taoist temples for prayer and offerings to deities and ancestors.

Following the ceremony, firecrackers were lit and lion dancers clamored to the streets.

Soo-Hoo reflected, “The Chinese New Year is a tradition. It’s a time of change and of renewing with a positive and hopeful new outlook for the coming year […] we would like to have peace, less violence, sufficient prosperity for all, be able to live in dignity and be able to have a good life for everyone.”

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