The 14th annual Chinese New Year Festival — held at Luther Jackson Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia, on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — was held to great success, and saw the attendance of several high-profile politicians and VIP guests. The event, which charged $2 for children aged 6-12, and $5 for adults, drew in more than 2,000 people.
Hosted and sponsored by the Asian Community Service Center (ACSC) in Washington D.C., the celebrations were kicked off with a traditional lion and dragon dance performance as the team of performers dressed in vibrant, yellow costumes snaked across classrooms and hallways — bringing cheer and laughter to kids and adults alike.
The event was a grand celebration of the Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan. 22 this year, and featured a variety of activities and performances that brought together members of the local Chinese community as well as guests from all different backgrounds and cultures.
The Western date of the Chinese New Year changes every year because of the lunisolar system used by the traditional Chinese calendar. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, while 2022 was the Year of the Tiger.
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The festival also featured a variety of live performances, including Kung Fu and Taekwondo demonstrations, traditional Chinese music and dance performances, poem readings, and acrobatic shows.
A wide variety of vendors were also seen setting up shop in the school’s gymnasium — selling everything from traditional Chinese food, such as dumplings, noodles, and fried rice, to souvenirs, handmade trinkets, antique swords, diabolos, lanterns, and more.
Good wishes for the Year of the Rabbit
The event also saw the attendance of about 17 officials, including U.S. Congressman Gerald Connolly (D-VA), who has attended each Chinese New Year celebration since its inaugural year in 2009. Other VIP guests included senators, delegates, county supervisors, and school board members.
“This is always a wonderful event, and I always appreciate and feel honored to have the chance to come and celebrate with you,” said Virginia House of Delegates member Karrie Delaney (D), adding that she hopes this coming year will be one of great luck and prosperity for everyone who celebrates the Lunar New Year.
“I just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year, and let everyone know that we are here to be of service to you,” Delaney said.
Diversity is a gift
Senator George Barker, who serves in the state Senate of Virginia and represents the 39th District, shared with Vision Times that he hopes to work alongside the Asian American community to continue growing and making economic strides together.
“In my district, over 35 percent of the population are Asian Americans,” Barker said, adding that “it’s a pleasure to be able to represent so many people from so many different perspectives and countries that make a difference here in Northern Virginia.”
Barker also made note of Virginia’s school system, and said he is looking forward to continuing the economic growth and fostering even more diversity in his state. “We are going to continue to make things better, and we are doing some good things for our school districts in the meantime,” he said. “We got $272 million for the school system in the state this past year, and we are gonna come back and get more this year.”
“Happy New Year to one and all,” said Vivan Watts, member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing Springfield and Annandale.
“I have been here for many years celebrating the Lunar New Year with everyone, and I must admit that although this isn’t’ my [zodiac] year, I can relate to the Year of the Rabbit because I was raised on a farm with many rabbits,” Watts said, adding that she looks to the word “purity” when thinking about the rabbit’s ability to “remain centered and be aware — both through eyes and ears — of any kind of danger, and have the ability to maneuver and find a way to survive and thrive.”
Preserving and sharing traditional values
For 38th District Delegate Kaye Kory, the event carried another layer of significance. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years and before [joining politics], I’ve been on the school board for 10 years, so this is really the area and the people that I know,” she shared with Vision Times.
“I believe it is very important to maintain what you’re doing here — sharing the culture and making sure it is remembered and passed down from generation to generation,” she said, adding, “It is so easy to lose [sight] of what’s important, and lose traditional values if you’re not careful, but it looks to me like you’re very successful, and I congratulate you.”
“I hope that if there’s ever anything I can ever do for you in the General Assembly, you’ll let me know,” Kory said. “I would be delighted to take you to the Capitol.”
As in previous years, the 14th annual Chinese New Year Festival was a great success — attracting thousands of visitors and providing a wonderful opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate a holiday that centers around abundance, prosperity, and enjoying delicious meals together.
The festival also taught people about Chinese culture and tradition, and provided a fun and exciting event for guests of all ages.