Texas New Year fes­ti­val gets boost

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By MAY ZHOU in Hous­ton mayzhou@chinadailyusa.com

Hous­ton is do­ing Lu­nar New Year big this time around, Texas big.

More than 200 peo­ple from Hous­ton’s Asian, African, Latino and other com­mu­ni­ties, along with Mayor An­nise Parker, coun­cil mem­ber Richard Nguyen and Chi­nese Con­sul Gen­eral Li Qiang­min, crowded into the front yard of the res­i­dence of Wea Lee, CEO of South­ern News Group, on Tues­day night. The oc­ca­sion was a kick- off party for the 19th Texas Lu­nar Fes­ti­val.

For the past 18 years, Hous­ton’s South­ern News Group has or­ga­nized the an­nual Texas Lu­nar Fes­ti­val in Chi­na­town to cel­e­brate the hol­i­day ob­served by Chi­nese, Viet­namese and other Asian eth­nic­i­ties.

This year, the fes­ti­val will be pushed to a new high. The one- day event will be held down­town at Dis­cov­ery Green on Feb 21, and Mayor Parker not only as­sumes the role of hon­orary chair­per­son, she has also pledged per­sonal funds to sup­port the event. Con­gress­man Al Green, hon­orary chair of the fes­ti­val, said he would also make a per­sonal con­tri­bu­tion.

Greet­ing the guests with a “Happy New Year” in both Chi­nese and Viet­namese, Parker said, “Hous­ton has a large pan-Asian pop­u­la­tion, we have many com­mu­ni­ties cel­e­brat­ing the Lu­nar New Year across the city. It’s time we come to­gether as a com­mu­nity and in­vite the en­tire city to join the cel­e­bra­tion. It re­ally makes a state­ment about what we can get done in Hous­ton.”

Parker added that “tonight I came here as mayor but also as an un­der­writer as well. It’s im­por­tant enough for me to com­mit some of my funds to make sure this event takes place on a grand scale”.

Lee said he was pleas­antly sur­prised by the mayor’s an­nounced con­tri­bu­tion. “This marks a new chap­ter in the his­tory of Hous­ton be­cause un­der Mayor Parker’s lead­er­ship, Hous­ton’s com­mu­ni­ties have truly come to­gether,” Lee said. “Most of us come from all cor­ners of the world, made Amer­ica our home, and here we cel­e­brate our own cul­tures. This is what Amer­ica is all about: di­ver­sity. This is what makes Amer­ica a great coun­try.”

Ac­cord­ing to Lee, more than 100 or­ga­ni­za­tions will par­tic­i­pate in the event. “We will make this one of the big­gest Lu­nar New Year cel­e­bra­tions in Hous­ton,” he said.

The fes­ti­val also got a big boost from the Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in Hous­ton, which has in­vited a per­for­mance group from He­nan prov­ince to join the fes­ti­val.

Chi­nese Con­sul Gen­eral Li Qiang­min praised South­ern News Group’s ef­forts in mak­ing such an event a lo­cal tra­di­tion. “The Spring Fes­ti­val is like our Chi­nese car­ni­val. The in­vited group will per­form a va­ri­ety of pro­grams such as mar­tial arts, ac­ro­bat­ics, mu­sic and dance. This will not only help lo­cal com­pa­tri­ots to cel­e­brate the Spring Fes­ti­val, but also help oth­ers get to know our cul­ture,” Li said.

Coun­cil mem­ber Richard Nguyen stressed that “we don’t just cel­e­brate our cul­ture, we share our cul­ture”, and joked, “we thank you for dress­ing like us, eat­ing like us, speak­ing like us, but don’t drive like us”.

Ac­cord­ing to Liu Zhiyuan, the fes­ti­val’s pro­gram pro­ducer, the event will of­fer games, per­for­mances and booths high­light­ing Chi­nese food and cul­ture. “Our VIP booth will show­case 1,000 Weifang Kites from Shan­dong prov­ince. Also, Bei­jing Con­fu­cius Foun­da­tion will send artists to do Chi­nese paint­ings and other per­for­mances on site.”

Liu said the more than 60 booths will fea­ture tra­di­tional items as­so­ci­ated with the Chi­nese Spring Fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tion, in­clud­ing lanterns and dec­o­ra­tive crafts.

The en­ter tain­ment is be­ing ar­ranged by Ori­en­tal Art Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter’s Xu Li and Bao Ling. Ac­cord­ing to Bao, three 90-minute seg­ments will be pre­sented to show­case dif­fer­ent facets of Asian cul­ture.

Hous­ton Mayor An­nise Parker

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