Borough gears up for Year of the Snake celebrations

Victor Tan, 7, pets a lion during a Lunar New Year procession in Elmhurst last year.
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The Year of the Snake is nearly upon us, and Queens is crawling with Lunar New Year cultural shows, performances, parades and food.

The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in many East Asian countries like China and Korea. Millions board packed trains in China to travel home for the holidays and spend time with family and loved ones. Each year is associated with a different animal — one of the 12 creatures in the Chinese zodiac calendar. Last year marked the ultra-auspicious Year of the Dragon, which is considered the luckiest of the bunch.

The Year of the Snake, however, is not nearly as popular.

In fact, according to Peter Tu, chairman of the Lunar New Year Festival Committee, some people instead refer to it as the Year of the Small Dragon, since associations with the slithering animal are not always positive.

The snake celebrations will kick off Feb. 9 this year, and the borough has plenty to offer.

Saturday, the eve of the 15-day holiday’s start, a Lunar New Year parade will march though Elmhurst. The event is organized by City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights).

The festivities will begin at 11 a.m. at Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Park, at Broadway and 45th Avenue, the same location where the march will kick off at 11:30 a.m. The procession, led by newly elected U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) will then continue west along Broadway to St. James’s Episcopal Church, at 84-07 Broadway, where there will be a fair showcasing services offered to the community.

Then on Sunday, the first day of the holiday, the Lunar New Year committee will host performances and a cultural bazaar on the second floor of Queens Crossing in Flushing. Expect dancers in colorful dragon costumes and traditional drums. Nearby, Flushing Town Hall will host traditional dancers from China, Korea and Taiwan, but also India, Colombia and America. Later in the afternoon, the hall will open its exhibit of Chinese folk art on loan from the Taipei Cultural Center in Taiwan.

The New York Hua Lian Tsu Hui Temple, at 22-06 121st St. in College Point, will be hosting lion dancers and a ceremony called the three-prince salute from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday.

The new year means new beginnings, and according to Tu, many will ring in the Year of the Snake by getting haircuts, purchasing a new outfit and eating with friends and family.

To chase out any residual bad spirits from the previous year, the Flushing Development Corp. will hold its annual fireworks display Monday at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library. Lion dancers and traditional folk music will then take over, followed by a screening of two movies by Ang Lee, the fabled Taiwanese director. More dancing and music will take over from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Stay tuned for information about more upcoming events, including the Lunar New Year Parade in downtown Flushing set for Feb. 16.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 8:48 pm, February 7, 2013
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