A huge crowd turned out for the 17th annual Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing Saturday as a vibrantly colored array of dancers, musicians, floats and other revelers dazzled the throngs of spectators ringing in the Year of the Snake.
“It’s great to see our culture celebrated,” said 12-year-old Hwang Times, of Great Neck, L.I., who had come to watch the parade with his mother, younger brother and friend. “Chinese is more of a minority .... We’re usually so influenced by American culture.”
Hwang’s mother, Ying Ling Hwang, who is Taiwanese-born and immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s, said she makes the trek to Flushing for the parade every year and that the activity is a good learning opportunity for her children.
“They don’t know why we need to have that kind of celebration,” she said.
She said this year she used the Lunar New Year celebration to teach her kids about the legend of the Nian monster. As the story goes, Nian, who had the body of a bull and the head of lion, would attack and eat people at the end of winter when food was scarce, but villagers learned they could scare him off with the color red, fire and noise. And so the Lunar New Year celebration began as a ritual to ward off Nian and welcome in spring.
She said she enjoyed the Lunar New Year celebration in Flushing, which she said was even more boisterous than in Taiwan.
“The feelings are more strong here,” she said. “We are all so proud.”
Flushing is home to one of the city’s largest Chinese and East Asian populations, surpassing even the number of Asians living in Chinatown in Manhattan. The Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, is the most important Chinese holiday and is usually celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice.
The parade started in late morning on Main Street at 37th Avenue, winding its way through the neighborhood’s streets. Many parade participants dressed in red and yellow, and some were donned in elaborate dragon or lion-head costumes.
A number of local politicians also marched in the parade, including U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) and City Councilmen Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Peter Koo (D-Flushing), among others.
A spokeswoman with the 109th precinct said the parade was larger this year than last year. She estimated that 8,000 people marched in the parade and there were 4,000 spectators.
Ying Ling said the parade was one of the largest she had been to in recent memory.
“This year is very big,” she said.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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