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Flushing residents parade to light of moon

Events ranging from a lantern parade down Main Street to a documentary film festival at the Flushing Library drew hundreds last weekend for the 2nd International Moon Festival in downtown Flushing sponsored by several different ethnic groups.

The event celebrates September’s full moon, which appears as the largest full moon during the year.

“The moon festival is the second biggest holiday in China,” said Fred Fu, president of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, one of the main organizers of the event.

The undertaking attracted a coalition of sponsors from the Jewish, Hindu, Hispanic and black communities, reflecting Queens’ reputation as the most ethnically diverse county in the country.

The two-day festival’s events included traditional Chinese music, a street fair, a lantern parade and a documentary film festival, showing Chinese, Cuban, and Afghan films.

This year marked the first time the moon festival was fully celebrated in Flushing. Occurring within days of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, last year’s event was toned down and called a unity march.

The moon festival is the third major Chinese celebration marked publicly in Flushing. Last month’s Dragon Boat Festival and February’s Lunar New Year Festival are the other large holidays, which are celebrated by tens of thousands of people in Queens every year.

Fu said the event encouraged unity among peoples.

“In every country, you will see the same moon,” he said. “Two hundred years ago they saw the same thing. It doesn’t matter where you are.”

The organizers of the event reflect such unity. While the Flushing Chinese Business Association is the event’s main organizer, the Korean-American Association also is involved since the full moon is also celebrated in Korean culture.

In addition, the American Jewish Congress, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens, the Hindu Temple Society of North America, and the Macedonia AME Church, organizations representing cultures which traditionally do not celebrate the holiday, also helped plan the event.

“I want all the different ethnic groups in Queens,” Fu said.

The Moon Festival is also a tribute to families, said Brenda Hwang, president of the Flushing Lion’s Central Club.

“The most important thing is for the family to get together,” she said. “Chinese families get together to enjoy moon cake.”

The moon cake, a small pastry bun filled with peas, is a holiday treat, she said.

At Flushing mall Saturday the Lions Club sponsored a Moon Festival concert for senior citizens, combining the holiday with the culture’s respect for elders.

“We have to respect old people,” Hwang said. “That’s why it’s very important for us to have this senior citizen party.”

About 800 seniors citizens attended the concert, which featured amateur performances by members of the Lions Club, and received gift bags filled with the traditional moon cake, a coupon for lunch at any of the mall’s restaurants, and other small gifts, Hwang said.

“Every year we have a party for the senior citizens,” she said. “They all say ‘when are you having the party?’ They all enjoy it.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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