Empire State Building turns red and yellow

Updated: 2015-02-18 11:53

By Niu Yue in New York(China Daily USA)

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Empire State Building turns red and yellow

Celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New year hit the big time with a fireworks show over the Hudson River, Feb 17, 2015. The display is the first large-scale fireworks display in the United States to celebrate the Lunar New Year. [Photo by Wang Yu/ chinadaily.com.com]

The Lunar New Year celebration in New York started Tuesday with a special lighting event at the Empire State Building and a spectacular evening fireworks show.

The light display, titled Splendid China and choreographed by the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), China's top fine arts institution, ran in a 60-second rotating display of five themes. The color schemes included red, yellow, white and blue, colors of the national flags of China and the United States.

"The Empire State Building is probably the most recognized, iconic building in New York and in the United States," said Zhang Qiyue, the Chinese consul general in New York. "It witnesses the development and social changes of this great city."

Since 2001, the Big Apple icon has held special lighting events for the Lunar New Year.

"There has been special lighting on the Empire State Building every year," said Yu Ding, professor at CAFA, who is in charge of CAFA's serial celebration events in New York. "There used to be only red and yellow. Now, we add variations, including Chinese elements."

CAFA also choreographed a 20-minute fireworks show in cooperation with Grucci, a Long Island, New York-based company that produced the 2008 Beijing Olympics fireworks show. The show, which was the first fireworks show of such scale to celebrate the Lunar New Year in New York history, started at 7:30 pm on Tuesday on three barges in the Hudson River.

Zhang said she "cannot not think of a better way" to bring in the New Year, and the show indicated that the Lunar New Year is not only celebrated by the Chinese but also appreciated by people all over the world.

The show featured four chapters: Great Jubilance, the Return of Spring, Illumination of the Stars and the Moon, and Universal Celebration.

The fireworks could be seen in Midtown Manhattan and in New Jersey across the river, equaling the scale of the Fourth of July fireworks, and music was playing along via local radio stations.

Hundreds of spectators learned of the fireworks through social networks and media reports, and they gathered at the Hudson River, despite the frigid weather. They came layered in coats, scarves and gloves.

"The Indepdence Day Firework might be able to be viewed in more areas, but you couldn't see such a grand fireworks," Tian Mengxi, a Chinese woman who has been staying in New York for seven years. "It's the first time that I have ever seen fireworks around the Lunar New Year in New York."

"That was lovely," said Janna Lara, who arrived last Thursday from the US Virgin Islands. "I love fireworks."

The lighting and fireworks kicked off Fantastic Art China, including art exhibitions, creative bazaars and joint events with the New York Historical Society and New York Philharmonic. It is CAFA's first celebration of the Lunar New Year in New York and part of the global Chinese Happy New Year series endorsed by China's Ministry of Culture.

Unlike traditional celebrations, CAFA is presenting a more contemporary and Western representation of China's most important festival.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this story.