Main Street was up and jumping Saturday afternoon in honor of the new year being celebrated half a world away. The ninth annual Main Street Association”s Chinese New Year”s parade kicked off at 1 p.m. at the Champion House Restaurant on the corner of East Liberty Street and South Fourth Avenue.
A drummer, followed by a two-man lion puppet, led the parade down Main Street. The lion, which is often mistaken for a dragon because of its ethnic appearance, was followed by dozens of residents as it made its journey downtown, said Alicia Steele, an employee of Four Directions on Main Street.
Shop owners and employees waved envelopes of money as it came by in hopes the lion would come by and bless their stores. The lion took two hours to make it around the block.
“It was just awesome. The guy who was doing the lion was just so energetic. He was rocking the house,” said
Steele, who fed the dragon.
The lion performed the traditional lion dance, which is supposed to bring good luck and fortune.
But the lion wasn”t the only sight to see.
Four Directions was one of the many shops which hosted events to celebrate the incoming year.
Attendees of the festivities were able to see their names written in Chinese calligraphy outside Generations for Children on Main Street.
Chinese calligraphy, an art originating before 200 B.C., has more than 3,000 characters and five different styles including cursive, semi-cursive, standard, clerical and seal scripts.
The art is based around the three basic geometric shapes of triangles, squares and circles. Each character is designated a certain number of lines with their own positions in relation to the other lines in the character. Chinese calligraphy artists are known for the beauty of their lines and the structure of their characters.
“I never realized calligraphy was so complicated. It was quite a cultural experience,” said LSA freshman Jonathon Roth, who happened to be walking down Main Street at the time of the event.
“The dragon was crazy. Everything looked so interesting, I had to stop,” Roth added.
Main Street wasn”t the only place celebrating. Student organizations around campus, including the Chinese Student and Scholar Association and the Asian American Association, kept community members busy all weekend long.
About 300 students and community members attended the CSSA”s annual new year party last night at the Michigan League Ballroom from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Students watched videos of the new year celebrations in China last week and danced to a live band created by CSSA members.
Other performances included a skit put on by community children, a Chinese opera, and a fashion show.
The performances have “been kind of liberal this year,” said Huron High School senior Shannon Dong.
“It”s pretty good. It”s more modern this year,” Dong”s friend, Min Ming Jiang, also a Huron High School senior, added. Jiang said that in previous years, the songs sung had been more classical Chinese.
Last year there were about 400 people who attended the party. “Because it is Sunday and people have to do work for Monday, and because of the Super Bowl game, not as many people are coming,” said CSSA President Weiguo Zhang, a graduate student.
The new year was Jan. 24, but activities traditionally last for the following 15 days. The new year is the biggest holiday of the year in China, and the country virtually closes down for the three days immediately following the new moon.