Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a parade, a rabbit competition, and dine out for only $2 a plate

By Stacy Nguyen
Northwest Asian Weekly

Kids and their parents lined up last year for the inaugural Lunar New Year Children’s Parade Contest. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Did you know that children born in 2011 will be articulate, talented, and ambitious? This is according to the Chinese zodiac, which is based on the lunar calendar.

The International District (ID) will be celebrating the upcoming Lunar New Year with its annual Lunar New Year Celebration. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held in Chinatown, in the area around Hing Hay Park, at 423 Maynard Avenue South.

The celebration will be hosted by the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA). There will be lion and dragon dances, taiko drumming, Chinese martial arts performances, a children’s parade and contest, a scavenger hunt, and much more.

“The CIDBIA sees the Chinatown-ID Lunar New Year Celebration as the perfect opportunity to showcase not only the neighborhood’s incredible talent and diversity of cultures, but the quality and unique businesses that can be found only in this historic Asian American district,” said Don Blakeney, CIDBIA executive director.

“Many of the favorites from Lunar New Years past will be making a return in 2011,” Blakeney added.

“The children’s costume parade as well as the cultural performances will pack the afternoon with entertainment you can’t find anywhere else. Personally, I have long been a fan of the Japanese taiko drummers and the Chinese lion and dragon dances. We will be highlighting martial arts as well as interactive Asian craft making, so that everyone can participate in the event.”

What’s new?

New to the annual celebration will be the live rabbit competition. Rabbit owners are invited to come and enter their pet bunnies into the contest. Attendees of the celebration will be able to vote on their favorite rabbit. The one that garners the most votes will be named the winner, and its owner will receive gifts and prizes.

“To commemorate this year’s animal in the Chinese zodiac, the CIDBIA is inviting children to enter their pet rabbits into the Chinatown New Year Rabbit Pageant — the winner will be crowned Chinatown-ID Rabbit of the Year,” said Blakeney.

Many restaurants this year will offer a tasting menu exclusive to the Lunar New Year event. “Many restaurants in the Chinatown-ID will be featuring a $2 tasting menu during the event,” said Blakeney. “The Chinatown-ID is a regional destination for those seeking the best in international cuisine — and this year the festival will allow everyone, from residents to employees and visitors, to experience several in one afternoon without putting a dent in their wallets.”

The Children’s Parade

The Northwest Asian Weekly (NWAW) and Seattle Chinese Post (SCP) are the organizers of the Lunar New Year Children’s Parade and Costume Contest.

Assunta Ng is the publisher of both the NWAW and the SCP. Her newspapers are the organizers of the parade, while the CIDBIA remains involved as the parade’s producer.

The first year had such a high number of participants that Ng decided to make the parade an annual tradition. “Anyone who saw what joy, fun, and excitement the parade brought to the kids and parents last year would love to do the parade again. There was a new mom carrying her 6-month-old baby with a gorgeous costume. There was a kid with his face painted like a tiger. Another one wore a fake mustache. I was totally impressed with the creativity, energy, and playfulness in the whole parade.”

In order to participate in the parade, a child has to be 12 years old or younger. Participants should be wearing culturally relevant or traditional Asian clothing.

However, the parade organizers are sympathetic to the fact that not all families may have traditional Asian clothing on hand. Children can wear red and gold/yellow clothes and still participate in the parade.

The parade will cover a city block and will begin near Hing Hay Park and South King Street. Depending on the weather, the exact route may change. A portion of the parade will cross over the elevated stage in Hing Hay Park. This will allow parents to have an opportunity to take good photos of the children.

Children who are too young to walk alone may be accompanied by an adult.

“This is cool because both the young and old can participate,” said Ng. “A grandparent can walk his grandkids in the parade. An aunt or godmother can bring their little ones along.”

As for the contest portion of the parade, prizes will be given out to those with the most elaborate and unique attires. There will be three main winners, which a panel of judges will select. The First Prize winner will receive $100; Second Prize is $50, and Third Prize is $25. Prizes will also be awarded to finalists. Prizes are made possible through the help of the parade’s sponsors, which include Pepsi, Key Bank, Tsue Chong Noodles & Fortune Cookies Co., and community sponsor Ron Chow.

“It is easy to join in the parade,” said Ng. “Just sign up. Many ID stores sell kids’ costumes. You never know, you may win the grand prize of $100 and a certificate to remember the parade for the rest of your life.”

Parade participants may pre-register or register on-site on a first-come, first-served basis before 1 p.m. on Jan. 29, in front of the NWAW/SCP building, located at 412 Maynard Avenue South. The parade starts at 1:30 p.m. The winners will be announced at 2 p.m. ♦

For more information or to download a registration form, visit www.cidbia.org or www.nwasianweekly.com.

Stacy Nguyen can be reached at stacy@nwasianweekly.com.

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