At a news conference Nov. 22, officials of Community Board 7, the Flushing Chamber of Commerce and Business Association, the Flushing Chinese Business Association and the Korean American Association of Flushing announced the formation of the Lunar New Year Committee Festival 2001 to organize the Jan. 27 parade.
"This is a cultural event not a political event," said Adrian Joyce, the chairman of CB 7. "Elected officials, parade officials and the community will march in the parade. Dignitaries from each of the communities will go to a reviewing stand. Some people from last year felt they were excluded, but everyone is welcome to participate."
He said CB 7 is not organizing the event. The community board is working with each of the groups and the parade organizing committee on an advisory basis, Joyce said.
One member from each of Flushing's three Asian communities will head the parade organizing committee, but anyone who wants to participate in helping to organize the event is welcome, he said. Joyce said each community would organize its own floats and parade marchers, while the Lunar New Year Committee Festival 2001 would arrange the whole event.
Queens has been a mecca for immigrants from Asia for many years and Flushing has become the financial as well as cultural capital for Asians living in the borough.
The Chinese and Korean communities marched together in the parade for the first time in 1999. During the 1990s the event excluded Koreans, who objected to the parade being called the Chinese New Year Festival.
In 1999 the name of the parade was changed to the Lunar New Year Festival to honor the holiday that is celebrated simultaneously by many Asian cultures, including Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese.
During last year's parade a problem arose when each of the communities invited its U.S. ambassador to march, but not all of them were scheduled to march as VIPs.
This year dignitaries will not be invited. Joyce said they are welcome to show up for the event, but they will not be treated like VIPs.
"This is a parade for the Lunar New Year - it is for everybody who wants to celebrate the new year," said Fred Fu, president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association. "We do not want anything concerned with politics. This is a festival, a carnival."
He compared the parade to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, complete with balloons, bands, and floats. "The parade is a celebration for everyone to enjoy. Nobody is special," Fu said.
"The parade is a tradition not only for Koreans and Chinese, but for the Asian community to celebrate the new year," said Kwang Kim, executive director of the Korean American Association of Flushing. "This is a community celebration, an Asian-American holiday. A day to move away from politics."
The parade, now in its sixth year, will take place in downtown Flushing and celebrate the Year of the Snake.
©2000 Community News Group
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