Dancing lions welcome ‘Year of the Horse’

Find out where this outer East Portland celebration of the Chinese New Year took place, and why it was so well attended …

Warner Pacific College’s McGuire Auditorium fills, as this annual Asian New Year celebration gets underway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Although the actual start of the Chinese New Year was on January 31 this year, many smaller celebrations were scheduled for the early in February. Sadly, many of them were cancelled due to our brief, yet intense, snow and ice storm.

However, it’s lately been the tradition of Portland Community College Southeast Center to schedule what they called their “Asian New Year” – more specifically, the “Lunar New Year” – on President’s Day; this year that made it February 17.

Unlike those who use the Gregorian calendar to mark the start of the New Year on January 1, the Lunar New Year is set for the first day, of the first month, of the lunar calendar. In some cultures, this celebration goes on for days on end.

Again this year, the colorful observance was held in McGuire Auditorium on the Warner Pacific College campus, just west of the PCC Southeast Center.

Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative Jade District Manager Stanley Moi, with Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, works to generate interest in an “Asian Night Market” along SE 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Event volunteer Nhu Tran stands with event committee chair Naomi Barbos, as the Asian New Year celebration gets underway.

“It’s a nice event for our community,” remarked this year’s Asian New Year Celebration Committee Chair, Naomi Barbos.

“It’s a great way to engage the students with the neighbors. It is family-friendly,” Barbos told East Portland News. “With this, we honor and promote the diversity of the Asian cultures here in East Portland.”

Servers dish up a feast, suitable for this Chinese New Year celebration.

As participants came into the auditorium, they queued up for a lunch of teriyaki chicken, Asian vegetables, and rice.

PCC SE Center President Dr. Jessica Howard smiled, “We are very honored and proud to host this celebration of Asian cultures. This is an annual tradition for us. It more than underscores our support of our diverse and rich community.”

PCC SE Center President Dr. Jessica Howard officially opens the celebration.

Taking to the auditorium’s stage, Dr. Howard welcomed the incoming guests and participants, and introduced politicians, dignitaries, and community leaders in the room.

According to speakers at the event, it was during the Chinese Han dynasty that animals were associated with a twelve-year cycle. 2014 is the “Year of the Horse”, a period of increased strength, independence, and good cheer.

This Chinese New Year Lion from the N. W. Dragon & Lion Dance Association both startles and delights children at this table.

Both ferocious and fun, these dancing lions entertain the audience.

The resonating beat of large drums and the clang of hand cymbals marked the start of the colorful “Lion Dance”. This year, the N. W. Dragon & Lion Dance Association brought three lively dancing lions to the celebration.

The three lions performed on the stage, but also pranced through the audience spreading – according to Chinese tradition – strength, wisdom, and happiness for the New Year.

By joining together in the center of the stage, these Chinese New Year Lions spread strength, wisdom, and happiness.

As is their custom, they gave away door prizes, donated by area businesses. The afternoon also included cultural dances performed by Woodstock Elementary School “Chinese Language Immersion Program” students.

By mid-afternoon, the celebration was over and the celebrants had left, having officially welcomed in this Asian New Year.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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