Preparations are underway for the Lunar New Year Parade, one of Flushing’s grandest and largest annual cultural events, to ring in the Chinese Year of the Tiger.
Winding its way through downtown Flushing Feb. 20, a week after the actual lunar new year Feb. 14, the parade is expected to draw up to 3,000 parade participants and a crowd of more than 20,000 people, according to organizers.
The beloved Flushing bash began in 1996 as the Chinese New Year Parade, but evolved over the years into its new iteration as the Korean community and other groups became more involved.
This year the parade is expected to be more sizable, welcoming and diverse than ever before, organizers said, and it will be a chance for New York City’s Asian community to celebrate the election of Flushing resident John Liu, an immigrant from Taiwan, as the first Asian American to win citywide office.
“Now that John Liu upgraded to the city, a lot of people wonder what does Flushing look like? Why is it such a great community? So more people will want to come,” said Peter Tu, the parade’s chief organizer and executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association.
During the parade, Korean, Jewish, Hindu and other groups will celebrate their cultures in concert with the Chinese revelers, a welcome change from the earlier days of the parade, organizers said.
Ten years ago, the parade was marked by marchers waving their country’s flags and expressing political views, bringing unwanted tensions to a time of celebration, according to Flushing Business Improvement District Director Mabel Law, one of the event’s organizers.
But Tu and other organizers put an end to that by barring parade participants from being overtly political or divisive.
“Now it’s more of a lunar new year parade, a local parade, and we didn’t want people competing and getting international politics involved. This is a celebration of culture and the new year and good luck,” Law said. “All different groups can participate, but it has to be a celebration of culture.”
The parade will begin Feb. 20 at 11 a.m. in front of the 109th Precinct at 37-05 Union St. It will proceed down Union, turn right on Sanford Avenue, make a right on Main Street and turn left on 39th Avenue before ending in front of the Flushing Mall at 133-31 39th Ave. before 1 p.m., when two after-parties will begin.
The Flushing Chinese Business Association will host a celebration on the second floor of Queens Crossing at 136-17 39th Ave., while the Korean American Association of Queens will host one at the Koreavillage Open Center at 150-24 Northern Blvd. Both events will feature cultural displays and performances, music and other festivities.
Based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the lunar new year, which marks the 14th of the traditional 15 days of celebration, falls on a different date each year in the Gregorian calendar used by Western countries. The celebration is one of the most significant in the Chinese calendar and it ushers in a new animal zodiac sign as determined by a 12-year cycle. This year’s celebration marks the start of the Year of the Tiger.
For information on participating in the parade, call 718-358-3030 to speak with parade organizer Michael Wang or call 718-353-2320 to speak with representatives of the Flushing Chinese Business Association.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2010 Community News Group
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