New year brings top-dog festivities
Issue date: 1/30/06 Section: State & National
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CARY - Forget about the dropping ball, bubbling champagne and a kiss at midnight.
The Chinese New Year festival offers dancing lions and dragons, traditional lucky food and music from opera favorites to folk songs.
Presented by the Triangle Area Chinese American Society of North Carolina the festival was held at Colonial Baptist Church on Saturday and lasted eight hours.
Chiu-Yueh Hung, volunteer at the festival and member of the TaiYin Choir, estimated that 3,000 to 4,000 people from across the Triangle attended the festival this year, ushering in the year of the dog.
"About half were Chinese," said Huey Lin Ni, another volunteer.
Hung added that many of the attendees were second-generation Chinese-Americans.
The two women agreed it is important for the children of Chinese immigrants to attend and be exposed to their cultural heritage.
Le Huynh, a director of the N.C. Raleigh Chinese Language School, said parents often are motivated to enroll their children in the school for the same reason.
"They want to let their children have the chance to learn Chinese," he said.
Other attendees remarked on the number of American families with adopted Chinese children participating in the day's event.
Ching-ju Chen, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine, said she was happy to see those families present.
"The most important thing is to let the children's home culture be respected," she said.
The purpose of the festival, Chen said, is for celebration and education.
"We want people to understand Chinese culture," she said.
Chen said that the festival has grown annually and that although the events were centered on Chinese culture, the holiday is common in Asian countries.
"Actually this is the lunar new year," she said. "It's celebrated by all Asian cultures."
The festival also included information booths set up by organizations such as the National Association of Asian-American Professionals.
"NAAAP is an organization helping TACAS in this event," said Binh Truong, a board member of the NAAAP. "We're supplying volunteers."
He said the main goals of the organization include promoting cultural awareness and providing career-advancement opportunities for Asian professionals.
Many of their programs also include reaching out to the Asian community in North Carolina through fundraising and cultural events, Truong said.
Hector Javier, the president of NAAAP in North Carolina, said the percentage of Asians in the Triangle is growing rapidly.
He said that was because of the good graduate programs at schools in the area and emerging careers in the biomedical industry. There is also a trend of Asians moving away from urban areas.
"I think they like a quality of life here," Javier said.
The day ended with a traditional Dragon Dance.
Fourteen people ran across the stage spinning and twirling a large dragon made of cloth and sequins high above their heads to the beat of a drum.
"This is a happy occasion," Chen said. "This is the biggest year yet."
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