‘Proud of our Chi­nese cul­ture and her­itage’

Phoenix cel­e­brates Year of the Boar at fes­ti­val

The Arizona Republic - - Valley & State - Ali Phillips Ari­zona Repub­lic USA TO­DAY NET­WORK

Phoenix helped wel­come the Year of the Boar Sun­day at the 29th an­nual Phoenix Chi­nese Week’s Cul­ture and Cui­sine Fes­ti­val at Mar­garet T. Hance Park.

The Phoenix Chi­nese Week Or­ga­ni­za­tion hosted a three-day event to cel­e­brate the Chi­nese New Year, which was Tues­day, Feb. 5.

“We are so proud of our Chi­nese cul­ture and her­itage,” said Elaine Wong, the Phoenix Chi­nese Week pres­i­dent. “This is the Year of the Boar; it is year 4717, so we have over 5,000 years of rich his­tory and in­for­ma­tion we want to share with the com­mu­nity.”

The Chi­nese zo­diac is made up of 12 an­i­mals, the boar be­ing the last an­i­mal of the 12-year cy­cle. Char­ac­ter­is­tics of an in­di­vid­ual born in the year of a boar are cheer­ful, con­fi­dent, and sin­cere.

The fes­ti­val show­cased tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion, and cui­sine. Wong es­ti­mated there were about 30,000 at­ten­dees over the three-day fes­ti­val.

“Our mis­sion is to unify com­mu­ni­ties through di­ver­sity and shar­ing our cul­ture,” Wong said.

Wong also talked about some of the Chi­nese New Year tra­di­tions, such as

clean­ing the house be­fore New Year’s to drive out evil spir­its and wel­come the good ones. If done on the ac­tual day or af­ter, there’s risk of sweep­ing out your good luck for this year.

The fes­ti­val in­cluded a wide range of tra­di­tional Chi­nese at­trac­tions, such as pho­to­graphs from renowned Chi­nese pho­tog­ra­pher Chen Baosheng, cos­tume booths, and other ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing mahjong.

The mahjong ta­ble was run by Sue Fong, 88, and Margie Gin, 85. The two have been play­ing for more than 50 years, and have even par­tic­i­pated in mahjong marathons that have lasted more than 12 hours.

Fong said her fa­vorite part of run­ning the mahjong ta­ble at the fes­ti­val is getting to meet new peo­ple and in­tro­duc­ing them to an an­cient game.

Gin said she liked help­ing peo­ple be aware of the game and get started play­ing it.

The fes­ti­val show­cased Chi­nese cos­tumes, such as em­per­ors and em­presses, which at­ten­dees and dogs could wear for pho­to­graphs.

Amy Ho, who runs the cos­tume booth, said at­ten­dees got the op­por­tu­nity to be­come fully im­mersed in Chi­nese cul­ture.

Dur­ing the three-day fes­ti­val, Phoenix Chi­nese Week show­cased many per­for­mances of mar­tial arts, tra­di­tional folk dances, Bei­jing opera, and “face chang­ing.”

“Face chang­ing” is an an­cient Chi­nese art, where opera per­form­ers wear brightly-col­ored masks and change “faces” in­stan­ta­neously with a quick move­ment of a hand, a head, or a swipe of a fan. The mask re­sem­bles face paint­ings op­posed to West­ern masks and made of thin clothes.

“The art of face chang­ing is kept se­cret from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion like the se­crets of ma­gi­cians,” said Meng Ans­ley, the Phoenix Chi­nese Week pub­lic­ity co­or­di­na­tor.

Fea­tured per­form­ers ranged in age from 4-years-old to adults in their 60’s, said Eva Aoi, a past Phoenix Chi­nese Week pres­i­dent and the cur­rent chair­woman for per­for­mances.

“Our mis­sion is to pro­mote Chi­nese cul­ture. This is a great venue for us to show ev­ery­one a bit of our cul­ture,” Aoi said. “So it’s a way to let ev­ery­one learn a lit­tle bit more and, by un­der­stand­ing each other’s cul­ture, we will be able to get along bet­ter — which is the most im­por­tant part.”

PHO­TOS BY ANYA MAGNUSON/THE REPUB­LIC

The Hope Chi­nese School per­forms at the Chi­nese Week Cul­ture and Cui­sine Fes­ti­val in Mar­garet T. Hanse Park on Sun­day.

Eli­cio Peña (left) and Ti­mothy Yi take part in the NB Taek­wondo demo per­for­mance at the Chi­nese Week Cul­ture and Cui­sine Fes­ti­val.

Sally Cao (right) takes a photo of Shirley Chin, of the Hope Chi­nese School, at the Chi­nese Week Cul­ture and Cui­sine Fes­ti­val.

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