It was with drums in the background that costume clad dancers started to gather in front of a stage in Chinatown around 10am on Sunday February 9th, to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Officials from surrounding cities, Boston, the Chinese Consolidated Benevolence Association of New England, our newly appointed Mayor Marty Walsh, and representatives from event sponsors spoke briefly to the growing crowd before the dancing finally got underway.
Despite the fact that Boston’s Chinatown might not be featured on a list of the Top 10, it is no less special to us. Truthfully, I don’t get down there as often as I would like, even to eat. So, going to the Lion Dance Parade this year seemed like it would be a great way to kick off the New Year. Sure, it was a little cold but, whatever it’s February. Honestly, it didn’t seem to keep anyone away. Excitement grew and the crowd expanded. Photo ops moved on to introductions which moved on to speeches and eventually made way for the 2014 Lion Dance Parade.
The Lion Dances themselves started out as a showcase on a stage, set up a block before the Chinatown Gate, just off of Beach Street. Each group danced briefly on stage performing enthusiastically for the exited and diverse crowd. The groups were nimble as they danced vigorously around the stage performing choreography that included a series of bows and eventually eating a head of cabbage and then kicking oranges out into the crowd. While all the troupes were good the All-Female Lion Dance Troupe seemed to be a particular crowd favorite. They performed an energetic dance which was followed by a Dragon Dance that seemed to really impress the crowd.
From the stage, the party kept rolling right on down the street and into the doorways of open restaurants and shops, where the lions were given gifts in exchange for blessings. By noon it was a pretty big party, complete with firecrackers, street vendors and people pretty much everywhere.
If you weren’t in Boston yesterday, maybe you celebrated the Lunar New Year in one of the other cities around the globe that celebrated the start of the Year of the Horse over the past week with their own tradition or parade. Or, maybe you decided to sleep in and hangout on the couch. Regardless of all that, Happy New Year!