Chinese Lunar New Year connects the dots in Chinatown
A lion dance celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year kicks off in downtown New York City. Photo / China Daily
New York City organizations made a push to recognize the Chinese Lunar New Year outside of Chinatown by holding festivities on Madison Avenue, hoping to impress upon tourists and members of the New York City community the cultural significance of the Chinese Spring Festival.
The holiday officially kicked off on Saturday and four New York City business improvement organizations — Chinatown Partnership, East Midtown Partnership, The Grand Central Partnership, the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) — and the Confucius Institute for Business at the State University of New York celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
Cultural performances were held at the Harmon Store, including shows from the New York Eastern Chamber Orchestra, FJ Music, juggling Lina Liu, the Confucius Institute for Opera at SUNY Binghamton and Chinese Theatre Works.
"New York City is a wonderful collection of communities, and it's wonderful when we bring them together," said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue BID.
"The connection between the neighborhoods along Madison Avenue and Madison Street in Chinatown really create a strong sense of community of cultural exchange and a great sense of ‘We're all in it together.' This event really does that," he said.
Wellington Chen, executive director at the Chinatown Partnership, said that Chinatown has never had a parade for the holiday in uptown Manhattan. "Other ethnic groups have had parades up and down Manhattan, but we're the only group that hasn't," he said.
Chen said the major goal of the event, which was also held last year, was to help "connect the dots" between uptown Manhattan residents and tourists with businesses in Chinatown, situated in lower Manhattan. His group works in Chinatown to encourage business and economic development.
"We want to raise awareness and grow the profile of Chinatown," he said of the event, named Madison Street to Madison Avenue, referring to the block in Chinatown and the avenue running north to south in Manhattan, respectively.
"Nobody knows what Madison Street is, but they do know what Madison Avenue is. Chinatown cannot sustain [itself] on our own," he said, saying that raising its profile through getting involved in this sort of cultural event is exactly the kind of spotlight Chinatown could benefit from.
Xu Yongji, education officer at China's consulate general in New York, echoed those sentiments in an interview on the sidelines of the event on Sunday, adding that China's economic growth has been a contributing factor to "the rising Chinese community in the US."
US retailers along Madison Avenue and other neighborhoods in the area participated in the festivities by providing their own discounts for the Chinese Lunar New Year, encouraging shopping from those who are visiting for the Chinese Lunar New Year, said Bauer.