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Sunset Park hopes for fortune in Chinese New Year of hooved beasts – Brooklyn Paper

Sunset Park hopes for fortune in Chinese New Year of hooved beasts

A fierce friend: Lunar New Year festival-goers perform a dragon dance to ward off bad luck and evil spirits in Sunset Park on Feb. 21. In Chinese culture, dragons are freidnly beings associated with bounty and wisdom.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

They hoofed it down Eighth Avenue for the Year of the Sheep.

Sunset Parkers celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year with a parade on Feb. 22.

Revellers exchanged gifts, watched traditional dance displays, and lit fireworks to ward off bad luck in the coming year. The parade was organized by the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, which has put on the event for the last 28 years. The organization’s founder started the parade to draw attention to Brooklyn’s Chinese community, the group’s vice president said.

“He wanted the people of different cultures to learn more about these important traditions and to make people aware that there was, at that time, a small Chinese community in the area,” said Haney Ho.

And the exposure lead to an influx in immigration to the Eighth Avenue, Ho said.

“It was a very quiet street at that time, and then Chinese immigrants started to move in.”

This year’s festivities included a lion dance — a work of collaborative puppeteering in which two dancers manipulate a lion costume — to ward off bad luck, Ho said.

“We have the lion dance to scare evils away — even for things like store openings — but Chinese people want to have more luck when preparing for the Chinese New Year, so this is must,” she said.

Many Asian countries use a calendar based on the phases of the moon rather than the sun’s position in the sky, so the Chinese Lunar New Year does not align with New Year in the Western calendar. This year, Feb. 19 marked the first day of the Chinese calender.

This year is also called the year of the ram and goat, because the Chinese zodiac symbol refers to a sub-genus of hoofed animals rather than a specific species.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.

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