Lunar New Year Celebration Kicks Off In Chinatown To Ring In Year Of The Tiger
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- People around the world are ringing in the Lunar New Year, and the excitement is brewing for the Year of the Tiger.
Mayor Eric Adams officially kicked off the Lunar New Year for New Yorkers at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Chinatown on Tuesday.
As CBS2's Elijah Westbrook reported, there was a sense of optimism at the Firecracker and Cultural Festival that the Lunar New Year will bring new beginnings. The nearly three-week celebration will feature firecrackers, fireworks and lion dancers, followed by a festive parade at the end of the month.
"Everybody's excited... We're happy about it, too," Chinatown resident Howard Moi told Westbrook. "Strength, resilience, prosperity."
Thousands showed up to usher in the Year of the Tiger, but an air of heaviness hung over the celebration.
At an art exhibit at Flushing Town Hall, local artists expressed the pain recent anti-Asian hate crimes have inflicted on their community, CBS2's Christina Fan reported.
"This piece is titled 'Fear.' Surrounded by fear. The second one is 'Cut the Loop.' If we can cut the loop of circle of hatred," co-curator Chemin Hsiao said.
WATCH: How Museum of Chinese America Is Marking Lunar New Year
The NYPD reports there were 133 anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021. That's 103 more that in 2020. The police force says it's now stepping up patrols starting Tuesday because of the increase.
"As an Asian community and more culturally, we do try to stick together. In terms of change, I think it's much more internal and waiting for external change to happen eventually," Chinatown resident Leighanne Oh said.
But there's hope the Lunar New Year will bring new beginnings, which is especially important for Chinatown businesses, where 87% of the neighborhood's 1,200 storefronts have returned, but the tourists have not.
"I really hope that after this New Year will bring in a lot of luck for our community," said William Su, of the Myanmar Chinese Association of NY.
"I guess I'm really excited about more non-Asians to celebrate Lunar New Year and recognize how important it is," Oh added. "I think as a holiday, like from work or whatever perspective, it's not really recognized. And I think more and more people at work are starting to recognize that this is something important to us."
Since 2016, city schools have closed in observance of Lunar New Year. There's now an effort in Congress to make it a federal holiday, Fan reported.
"We had the most fun. Rey takes Mandarin in school, so we wanted to come down here," one parent said.
No matter your religion, ethnicity, or race, the meaning and well wishes associated with Lunar New Year -- strength, resilience and prosperity -- hold true for everyone.
CBS2's Christina Fan contributed to this report.
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