Year  of the Snake

Year of the Snake

Pasadena joins Los Angeles and Alhambra in celebrating the Lunar New Year

By Carl Kozlowski 01/30/2013

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For many area residents, New Year’s festivities ended a month ago.
 
But for the San Gabriel Valley’s sizable Asian community, this month offers plenty of other opportunities to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Snake. 
 
In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and that country’s Consulate General in Los Angeles, numerous performers and artisans from China’s Jiangsu province, among them the Xiao Hong Hua, or Little Red Flowers dance troupe, are scheduled to help usher in the Year of the Snake during this year’s Lunar New Year celebration Saturday at the Pacific Asia Museum, 46 S. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena.
 
“We do hope that the festival will help our American people understand China, Chinese culture and Chinese people,” Che Zhaohe, cultural consul for the Chinese Consulate General in LA, told the Weekly. “If you want to know China and the Chinese people, come and spend a day with us [and] taste Chinese culture.”
 
Celebrated by millions throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands, the Lunar New Year begins Feb. 10. 
 
On Feb. 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the city of Alhambra will stage its own New Year event with the 22nd Annual Alhambra Lunar New Year Celebration, a one-day street festival on Valley Boulevard, between Garfield Avenue and Almansor Street. More than 40,000 people are expected to explore its 260 booths, dragon boat rowing station, auto square, children’s workshops, cultural demonstrations, ethnic food and games. 
 
For more information, visit cityofalhambra.org. 
 
But the biggest party of all takes place in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, where more than 125,000 people annually gather to enjoy a full weekend of fun at the Chinese New Year Festival, highlighted by the city of LA’s annual La Fiesta Parade. Featuring a Chinese lion and dragon procession that requires 25 men to maneuver, the parade takes off at 1 p.m. Feb. 16 along Hill Street, while the overall festival takes place noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 16 and noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 17 at Central Plaza, 943-951 N. Broadway. 
 
Aside from the festivities, from 10:30 a.m. to noon Feb. 16 and 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 17, explorers can enjoy the Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour. Along the way, participants will visit a temple, an herbal shop, art galleries, antique stores and other off-the-beaten path points of interest. 
 
Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to amble through myriad alleyways, plaza stalls and courtyards to discover the charm of Chinatown. Tickets are $15 for Saturday’s tour and $20 for Sunday. Call (626)833-3853. 
 
But if you want to get a jump on all the downtown action, head to the Thien Hau Temple, 756 Yale St., at 11 p.m. Feb. 9 on the eve of Chinese New Year weekend. Attendees can experience traditional incense burning, make offerings to deities, watch traditional lion dancers and witness 500,000 firecrackers explode. Call (213) 680-1860. 
 
For more information on the Chinese New Year Festival, visit chinatownla.com or call (213) 680-0243.
 
At last year’s Pacific Asia Museum festival, more than 5,000 people turned out to enjoy ethnic foods, crafts, performances and museum galleries representing various Asian cultures. Like last year, the entire museum will be taken over by artisans, dancers and food vendors in hopes of engaging the community in intercultural understanding and appreciation through art. Visitors on Saturday can expect demonstrations of various art forms, including lantern making, sugar art, paper cutting, cloth art, Suzhou silk art and Chinese knotting.
 
While the museum has held Lunar New Year celebrations in years past, this pan-Asian festival began two years ago as a way of including more cultures in hopes of extending the museum’s reach within the community. In addition to Chinese cultural presentations, Korean and Japanese performers will also be participating. 
 
“It’s an exciting way to accommodate a much larger group of people for the biggest celebration of the year for many Asian cultures,” said Pacific Asia Museum Marketing Director Chelsea Mason. 
 
The Pacific Asia Lunar New Year Festival is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to the public. 
 
For anyone interested in a more intimate look at their work, the performers and artisans from Jiangsu will also be performing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and tomorrow. Admission is free with regular museum admission, which is $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors and free for members and children 11 and under. For the schedule of festival events, visit pacificasiamuseum.org/_events_calendar/families.aspx. 

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