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Elk Grove Celebrates Lunar New Year with Lion Dances

Elk Grove Celebrates Lunar New Year with Lion Dances
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The community came together to celebrate Lunar New Year at District 56 on Saturday January 29.

Vice Mayor Darren Suen and City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen sponsored the event.

Also in attendance were Elk Grove Mayor, Bobbie Singh-Allen; Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume; Sacramento City Council Member Angelique Ashby, California State Senate Candidate Dave Jones; Jinky Dolar of OCA and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and Gurjatinder Singh Randhawa of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Samantha Tov of Portfolio Real Estate, Vice Mayor Darren Suen, Assistant Chief at Sacramento District Attorney’s Office Thien Ho, City Council Member Pat Hume, Mayor of Elk Grove Bobbie Singh-Allen, and President of Sacramento Asian Real Estate Association of America Vannessa Lam Photo Credit Michelle Silveira

The Main Event

First, Elk Grove city officials started out by sharing a few remarks about the significance of lunar new year. Next, guests were treated to traditional festivities by Golden Turtle Lion Dance Co. directed by Dai Nguyen. To illustrate, there were three lions – red, yellow and orange. During the dance, children got to pet and feed them red envelopes that were handed out, which in Chinese culture means good luck. Most importantly, this was a fun opportunity for people to learn about Chinese and southeast Asian traditions.

Also, in an effort to provide resources to the community , free Covid tests were handed out, along with red envelopes (lai see; hong pao); and treat bags.

Complimentary goodies
Photo credit: Marissa Johnson
Feeding the lion red envelopes for good luck. It is also considered a donation to the dance troupe.
Photo credit: Marissa Johnson
Photo credit: Marissa Johnson
Photo credit: Marissa Johnson
Children seen interacting with the lion
Photo credit: Marissa Johnson
Well done, percussionists!
Photo Credit: Marissa Johnson

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Historical Background

According to ancient traditions, the lion dance is meant to bring good luck and good fortune on Lunar New Year. However, is also performed at festivals and other special occasions. Furthermore, they symbolize power and are known to chase away evil spirits. But it should not be mistaken for the dragon dance, which is a common dance in Asian cultures as well.

It is operated by two people. For example, one controls the head, while another controls the tail. Important to know, the Chinese lion dance has two forms, the Northern, and the Southern.

Footage of the Festivties

2022 – The Year of the Tiger

Based on Chinese interpretation, the tiger symbolizes strength, courage, and power. Interestingly, they are revered as the king of all beasts. Moreover, they are known to be the protectors of children. Historically, children in China wear hats and shoes depicting tigers to protect them from evil spirits.

Antique, hand-embroidered, silk Chinese baby hat depicting a whimsical face of a tiger
Photo Credit: Marrante  CC-BY-SA-3.0 (no changes made)

Thoughts from the Mayor

Indeed, it is always a great day when Elk Grove Mayor, Bobbie Singh-Allen makes an appearance. Of course, as usual Singh-Allen took the time to interact with community members. Likewise, she also shared a few words with EGT following the event:

“It is great to see such an overwhelming response to the Lunar New Year celebration here at Distrcit56 at The Preserve. Happy Lunar New Year everyone! Blessings to all.”

-Bobbie Singh-Allen, Elk Grove Mayor
Mayor of Elk Grove Bobbie Singh-Allen
Photo Credit Michelle Silveira

Event Sponsors

City Council Member, Stephanie Nguyen has a passion for community development. In fact, she is the Executive Director for Asian Resources, Inc.,

Nguyen spoke about the growing needs within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population in Elk Grove, and the importance of coming together. Although it has been two years since the city has been able to host a lunar new year event, the community response was positive nonetheless.

“With such a huge increase in the AAPI community, it was great for all of us to come together. To be able to host this for our community, enjoy the Lunar New Year, have a live performance from lion dancers, and be able to feed the lion for good luck. And it was great just to be able to come out and enjoy this beautiful day – to start out the new year with some great luck coming our way.”

-City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen
City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen

Vice Mayor Darren Suen gave a lively speech about favorite past times of Lunar New Year. Suen enthusiastically addressed the crowd in his native tongue wishing them a happy new year. To that end, he told EGT how much he appreciated seeing everyone coming together as a community. Suen also commented on how delighted he was to see various Asian cultural representation amongst the crowd.

Vice Mayor Darren Suen

“I just want to thank everybody for coming out to this wonderful event. It was great celebrating Lunar New Year with the entire community of Elk Grove. Not only did we get to see Chinese culture, but also Vietnamese, Mien, and Korean as well. The kids loved it – Great venue, and it’s nice to see the community coming out to celebrate something positive right now.”

-Vice Mayor Darren Suen

Thien Ho

Assistant Chief at Sacramento District Attorney’s Office Thien Ho
Photo Credit: Michelle Silveira

“As someone who is a refugee from Vietnam who escaped on a fishing boat, this is fantastic to have our community out here to celebrate Tet. I want to wish you, Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy New Year!”

-Assistant Chief at Sacramento District Attorney’s Office Thien Ho

Dave Jones

Dave Jones
Former Assemblymember at California State Assembly
Former Sacramento City Council Member
Photo Credit: Michelle Silveira

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“We were excited to have a lion dance and a lot of participation by the kids to kick off the new year. Happy Lunar New Year everyone!”

-California State Senate Candidate Dave Jones

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the event was a huge success and the weather couldn’t have been any more perfect that afternoon. Although, we are still living in uncertainty with Covid infection rates still on the rise, the community managed to enjoy themselves while still practicing safety guidelines. Kudos to the City of Elk Grove; Darren Suen and Stephanie Nguyen for putting on a great event!

About The Author

Elk Grove Tribune Editors

We are the Editors of Elk Grove Tribune. Dr. Jacqueline "Jax" Cheung is our Editor-In-Chief. Marissa Johnson is our Executive Editor.

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