Dragons, Lions, Pigs and Fireworks Ring in the Lunar New Year in Sunset Park

Dragons, Lions, Pigs and Fireworks Ring in the Lunar New Year in Sunset Park

SUNSET PARK – The air abounds with the noise of tiny firecrackers popping under foot as the crowd shuffles along. Glitter and confetti transform the pavement into a patchwork of pastel colors. Children and adults delight in equal measure over cans of silly string, chasing one another through the street. Drums beat, dragons and lions dance. Gung hay fat choy, the Lunar New Year is here!

During the 32nd annual Lunar New Year parade in Sunset Park on February 10th dancers in lion costumes performed in the street. (Photo: Ann Seymour)

Merrymakers shrugged off Sunday’s chilly weather and came out in droves to usher in The Year of the Pig at the 32nd anniversary of the New Year parade in Sunset Park. The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, began on February 5th after the new moon. The Chinese calendar runs on a 12-year cycle with 2019 marking the Year of the Pig, an animal associated with fortune and good luck in Chinese culture.

Dragons and lions are a part of New Year celebrations around the globe. In Sunset Park, pairs of dancers in lion costumes performed in the street, pausing to accept gifts of lucky red envelopes from children. Red is a sign of good luck. Down the block a trio of lions went door to door along 8th Avenue and visited each business along their route.

“It’s for good luck, fortune, and to bless the store for the New Year,” explained parade volunteer Victoria Wong.

Children perform a dance to a Lunar New Year song at the 32nd annual celebration in Sunset Park on February 10th. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
Senator Chuck Schumer speaks at the Lunar New Year celebration on February 10th in Sunset Park. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
Performers prepares to kick off the Lunar New Year parade in Sunset Park. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
A lion leads the parade on February 10th during the Lunar New Year parade in Sunset Park. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
Dancers perform for a crowd at the Lunar New year celebration in Sunset Park on February 10th. The dancers work in pairs, one operating the mask at the head of the lion costume and the other at the tail. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
A tree covered in silly string along the parade route during the Lunar New Year celebration in Sunset Park on Sunday, February 10th.
A dancer peaks out from his lion costume at the Lunar New year celebration in Sunset Park on February 10th. The dancers went from door to door along 8th Avenue, stopping to bless each business along the way. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
At the Lunar New Year parade in Sunset Park on Sunday, Congresswoman Yvette Clark adds red paint to a dragon mask. Red is the color of good luck in Chinese culture. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
Dragons in Five Brothers Seafood Market on 8th Avenue in Sunset Park on February 10th during the Lunar New Year Celebration. A visit from a lion is meant to bring the business good luck and fortune in the new year. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
A trio of dragons perform atop poles at the 32nd annual Lunar New Year parade in Sunset Park on February 10th. (Photo: Ann Seymour)
At the Lunar New year celebration in Sunset Park on Sunday, children offer gifts of red envelopes to dragons performing in the street. (Photo: Ann Seymour)

Local politicians and officials attended the festivities, including Senator Chuck Schumer, Congresswoman Yvette Clark, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

Addressing the crowd, Senator Schumer spoke of the contributions Asian Americans have made to the country. “Thank you for coming to this country and thank you for coming to New York. You are what makes America great!” he said.

“I don’t care if you have been here since breakfast or since birth, this is your home,” said Council Member Justin Brannan of Brooklyn’s 43rd District.

Fireworks followed the speeches and hundreds of red and gold balloons were released into the air and the parade began. The festive crowd lit sparklers and launched confetti cannons into the air along the way, covering trees, and each other with glitter and silly string. The Year of the Pig has begun!

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