Library Hosts Lunar New Year Festivities for Hundreds

Photo by Erin Rodick / OUTLOOK
A colorful dragon delights the audience at the recent Lunar New Year celebration at the library.

A Lunar New Year celebration at the La Cañada Flintridge Library had hundreds of people learning Chinese calligraphy, eating rice cakes and watching a dragon perform.
La Cañada High School student Angela Zhang, 12, helped attendees write the character Fu, which means good luck, at the celebration, attended by nearly 300 people.
“We write it on red paper,” Zhang said at the event celebrating the Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. “If you stick it on a ceiling or something it means good luck for the new year.”
The start of the lunar calendar began on last Saturday and continues for 15 days. This is the Year of the Rat as the Chinese zodiac cycle consists of 12 animals.
The library event featured a traditional lion dance, a cooking demonstration with chef Vivien Phung and crafts such as calligraphy.
The Chinese Club of La Cañada Flintridge, Cathay Bank and Friends of the La Cañada Flintridge Library sponsored the program.
Phung said she had a great turnout for her program. Participants make steamed and baked versions of Chinese rice cakes, known as “nian gao,” and usually eaten to celebrate Chinese New Year. Attendees got to taste the rice cakes after the presentation.
“They really enjoyed it,” Phung said. “It’s always nice to have a hands-on aspect when it comes to cooking. We always have a great turnout but this is super, super nice. And I got a chance to look at a dragon.”
Huafen McArthur, a La Cañada resident who attended with her husband, two children and mother, attended Phung’s presentation and could be seen snacking on the slightly sweet treat made with sticky rice.
“It’s good,” said McArthur, adding she was considering taking a recipe home afterward. “I’ve never make those kinds of things, so it’s good to try it.”
Michael Xu, a 7th-grader at LCHS, was creating calligraphy toward the end of the event. He thought the Chinese characters were beautiful.
“Today is like a party,” Xu said. “Everybody is celebrating the New Year and we can visit our friends here. I think that’s what the festival is for … just gathering together and having a good time.”
Meanwhile, a group of youths used sticks to hold a colorful dragon creation aloft as they moved it around the room.
Event co-host and 13-year-old LCHS student Ashley Dietrich, daughter of organizer Lola Dietrich, said hosting was chaotic because she knew more people than usual who were trying to get her attention.
Ultimately, she hopes people have the opportunity to learn more about Chinese culture through the annual festivities.
“Then hopefully they’ll tell their friends they had fun and even more people will come next time,” said Ashley, who is in the 8th grade.
She and co-host Emilynne Newsom welcomed the hundreds of people — including lots of young children — at 5:30 p.m. and began with a Pledge of Allegiance and an introduction to the Lunar New Year that included a video.
Attendees were able to see a variety of dance and music performances. Ashley Dietrich tap danced while Angela Yu played the guzheng, also known as a Chinese zither. Cathay Bank held free drawings for prizes.
LCHS manager Mark Totten said he thought the event ran smoothly because there was a variety of entertainment and crafts as well as LCHS students volunteering their services at the event. He said many of the Lunar New Year decorations would remain at the library for 15 days.
After the event, Lola Dietrich said she was also impressed with the LCHS students who helped out.
“This is all about the kids and the community,” she said. “We can bring the people together in sharing the cultures.”

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