‘Homegrown’ Lunar New Year party delights Library celebrants

See why organizers of this event didn’t have to bring in ‘outside’ talent to entertain guests who welcomed the Year of the Rabbit (and/or Cat) at Midland Library …

Volunteer Thao Le helps these young Vietnamese performers finish their makeup, just before they go “on stage” for their Lunar New Year celebration performance at Midland Library.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Of all the Lunar New Year celebrations held across East Portland – at many of which professional acts were brought in to entertain the revelers – Midland Library’s event, on February 8, looked to their own community for their teaching and performing artistes.

This celebration embraced traditions of China – where they are celebrating the Year of the Rabbit – as well as Vietnam’s welcoming the Year of the Cat.

“We are one of the Multnomah County libraries that are celebrating this traditional Chinese and Vietnamese cultural event,” explained Midland Library’s administrator, Javier, as he welcomed us to the event. “It’s important have a cultural event like this, because it brings people into the library that otherwise may not visit.”

Midland librarian, Ann Tran makes sure everyone is ready as the Lunar New Year celebration gets underway.

Gutierrez said he was pleased how this, their fourth annual Lunar New Year celebration, came about. “We’ve created partnerships with our community to produce our program this year. These primarily Chinese and Vietnamese partner groups are involved, and engaged in producing all of the entertainment. And, you’ll see we have some very talented youths and adults here!”

Midland Library’s bilingual Chinese library assistant, and co-organizer of the event, Cherry Chan demonstrates how to write the symbol representing the Lunar New Year.

Midland Teen Council members, Luanne Feng and Jason Tsang, serve up tasty Vietnamese-style sandwiches.

“Cultural awareness is the purpose of what we’re doing; it’s just that simple,” said Midland librarian, Ann Tran, serving as the event’s coordinator, as she made sure final preparations were completed for the celebration.

“This event is good for three reasons,” Tran told us. “It brings together our Chinese and our Vietnamese communities. Also, it helps show Westerners facets of these cultures. And, we have a lot of books on the Lunar New Year celebration, so we can promote reading books.”

Vietnamese Storytime kids sing a “Happy New Year” song in both English and in Vietnamese.

The room quickly fills with Lunar New Year revelers.

There was plenty to see and do at the occasion. “We’re serving Vietnamese sandwiches from Best Baggett,” Tran pointed out. “And, we have singing and dance numbers by members of our Vietnamese Storytime group; a group of Chinese dancers; a fashion show…and a puppet show.”

With a celebration like this, the Lunar New Your was warmly welcomed in outer East Portland.

These teens demonstrate vitality and agility while performing this dance number – to the delight of the crowd.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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