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Flushing’s Lunar New Year kicks off Feb. 9

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Flushing’s Lunar New Year Festival, one of the nation’s largest celebrations of the Asian-American holiday, is set to begin downtown Saturday, Feb. 9, at 11 a.m.

Police from the 109th Precinct, the Korean-American Association of Flushing and Community Board 7 met Monday to finalize the details of the parade.

The 2002 Lunar New Year, marking the year 4700 on the Chinese calendar and 4335 on the Korean calendar, initiates the Year of the Horse. The festival will be highlighted by Saturday’s parade, which traditionally is full of marching red dragons, floats, dancing and music.

The one-hour parade will begin at 37th Avenue between 138th and Main Streets at 11 a.m. The 3,000 participants will march west on 37th Avenue, south on Main Street, east on 41st Avenue, north on Union Street, west on Roosevelt Avenue and north on Prince Street, concluding at the corner of 39th Avenue.

Starting at 10 a.m., cars will be banned from much of downtown Flushing. Drivers will be barred from the area along Northern Boulevard to the north, Sanford Avenue to the south, College Point Boulevard to the west and Bowne Street to the east until at least 1 p.m.

Police warn that any cars parked along the parade route will be towed.

Buses that normally travel within the frozen zone will be rerouted to its perimeter from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Q44/20 bus will travel along College Point Boulevard from Northern Boulevard to Sanford Avenue.

The Q12, Q13, Q14, Q15, Q16, Q17, Q27 and Q28 lines will have a temporary terminus at Bowne Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

After the parade, attendees can gather at the Flushing Mall on 39th Avenue at noon for a memorial service. Following the service, Flushing’s Korean-American community will head to Flushing High School on Union Street at 1 p.m. for a traditional indoor celebration, while the Chinese-American community will remain in the mall in a more traditionally Chinese celebration.

“This is not only the Korean and Chinese communities,” said Kwong Kim, executive director of the Korean-American Association, which is organizing the parade along with the Flushing Chinese Business Association. “The entire community can get together.”

While most of the participants will be Chinese or Korean, some marchers will hail from India and even the Bahamas, two nations that do not traditionally celebrate the Lunar New Year. Moreover, 7,000 people from throughout the city, representing many of the city’s ethnicities, were expected to attend the parade.

Last year’s celebration was nearly canceled due to a conflict between two rival groups over the right to organize the parade.

Although the right to organize the parade was contested once again, this year’s parade was never threatened with cancellation.

In an attempt to ease differences between Chinese and Korean groups looking to control the parade, Community Board 7 got involved several years ago.

“A lot of people said it would never work, that the Chinese and Koreans would not get along,” said Adrian Joyce, former chairman of Community Board 7, at Monday’s meeting. But Joyce said the board no longer has to act as a mediator. “We’ve gotten to the point when the community board can step back.”

Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7, said the parade has become embraced by all of Flushing.

“It’s become a real community event,” she said. “Everyone is looking forward to it.”

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

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