Friday, February 4, 2011

Kung Yee Fat Choy ! Happy Chinese New Year !

Tuesday, February 1st was the first day, New Year's Day, of the year 4709 - The Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Lunar Calendar – the 4th year of the 12 year cycle of Chinese astrological symbols.

There were celebrations in Chinatown and downtown Honolulu last weekend and again there will be Lion Dancers to chase away the demons and bring prosperity and good luck to the outlying shopping malls this coming weekend.
Chinatown Entry - Honolulu, Hawaii

We, my friends Sherb, Jen and I went to Chinatown on Friday night to walk all over to watch the Lion Dancers visiting each of the many business locations.

Before the firecrackers begin - What will the Lions do?

The Lion Dancers are young members of the local Chinese social and cultural organizations. There are many of these organizations many of which have a squad of young people to be the Lion Dancers. 
The Lions go to investigate each packet of exploding firecrackers - Note the debris on the street from the firecrackers.
Bang the cymbal and the drums! Noise, noise, lots of noise will scare away the demons and bring prosperity and good luck all the year!
The groups come to the store amid a great cacophony of gongs, cymbals and strings of several thousand firecrackers exploding for the Lions to symbolically "eat" or receive a gift to drive away demons and to bring prosperity and good luck to the business for the coming year. The store prepares a gift for the Lions and provides firecrackers for the celebration.

My friend and apartment mate, Sherb, and I got as close to the activity as possible to take photos and to shoot short videos.  The conditions were difficult. The noise was completely deafening.  I was worried about damage to the hearing in my one remaining good ear, my left ear.

To get the full effect of the video, turn your speakers up LOUD!  then throw sand up to bounce off your face!
The firecrackers were creating great billows of sulfurous gun smoke making it nearly impossible to breath. The new, "paperless" firecrackers still use some paper, but somehow, they are using sand in them, so I was being sandblasted by particles of sand bouncing off my face, glasses and the camera. It took showers on 2 consecutive days to get all the sand out of my hair.  

My shoes were dusty and my camera required a good cleaning after the weekend.

The store owners kept throwing packages of firecrackers one after another for the Lions.  We left after about 30 minutes to get a breath of clean air – the store owner was still lighting and throwing out packs of firecrackers to keep the Lions occupied!
The following day, we returned to downtown Honolulu for the parade honoring the Chinese New Year.  The parade was composed of about 50 or 60 various Chinese social, business and cultural organizations along with a US Navy Band, several high school bands and the Royal Hawaiian Marching Band. 

US Navy Color Guard
US Navy Band

Enter the Dragon !
The Dragon was presented by a Chinese Society

A Bevy of Beauty Queens On Parade.

Mun Lun School - 100th Anniversary Year

Mun Lun School - Teaching Chinese Language and Culture to new generations.

Mun Lun School - Elementary School Students on Parade.

A Lion Dance Association

A Golden Boy and his mom - Association of Chinese University Women.

Portrait of the Golden Boy

A Young Lion Dancer

Sherb Feeding a Lion for Good Luck

The parade took over 2 hours to pass by.  The crowds, particularly the children were feeding the Lions folded up dollar bills for luck as each of the groups passed by.this is many of the organization's major chance to raise funds for the coming year.

The Royal Hawaaian Marching Band

Youngsters in a Physical Culture Club

Doing Exercises on Hotel Street

The Stickfighters Club

 The costumes and banners were colorful and striking.

A view of China of Old - and Mr. Panda

Bright Banner for a Parade Group
China of Old
Hawaii of Today !

Another Bright Banner
Another Colorful Banner - But, Its all Chinese to Me !
After the parade, we walked about 4 blocks to the Asian Cultural Plaza to join the milling crowds getting Chinese food unique to the New Year Season. 

Asian Cultural Plaza - The Moongate Stage with Lion Dancers


All Kinds of barbecued foods were ready at the Plaza

Feed the Lion to bring prosperity and good luck all year long.

Portrait of a Lion Dancer Costume 

We ended up eating dinner at Verbano's Italian Restaurant - a restaurant we often go to.  Verbano's is operated by a Chinese family!

Today’s word is “Keiki”  Pronounced “Kay – key” and it means child or children. 

Honolulu has a special Keiki section at its Zoo in Kapiolani Park near Waikiki.  

The Keiki Zoo which is a “must visit” attraction when you and your keiki visit Honolulu.

Keiki Zoo - Honolulu, HI