New Year’s Dance Brightens City’s “Chinatown”

With a thunder of drums, a golden lion rampaged through downtown Thursday, blinking and stomping and nibbling at delighted little children.

The great beast was helping to usher in the Chinese New Year, bestowing blessings on lucky passersby and merchants in New Haven’s “Chinatown” on Whitney Avenue.

He paraded also to help celebrate the 111th birthday of the Yale-China Association, which sponsored the event. The organization, founded on Feb. 10, 1901, works to foster understanding between China and America.

Click the play arrow to see the lion’s moves. The lion dance is a tradition from southern China to celebrate the lunar new year. The holiday is traditionally celebrated for 15 days past new year’s day. The Year of the Dragon began on Jan. 23.

The festivities kicked off at 11:30 a.m. at the corner of Church and Elm streets. The Wan Chi Ming Hung Gar Institute Dragon and Lion Dance Team, from New York’s Chinatown, suited up and started drumming.

Parade-goers offered hongbao to the lion. The red envelopes contain money, an offering that will bring good luck in the coming year.

The lion headed north on Church Street, stopping by the Chase bank building to blink, flap his ears, show off his dance moves, and accept more hongbao.

He reared up on his hind legs.

On Whitney Avenue, he sniffed a baby.

He poked his head in the kitchen at the Great Wall Chinese restaurant…

...and nuzzled a diner before paying his respects at Hong Kong Market next door.

At the corner of Whitney and Trumbull, the lion nibbled on a tolerant toddler.

In the Phelps Triangle nearby, he unfurled a banner wishing good fortune in the new year.

The lion sniffed a few more babies…

... then headed out the Yale-China Association offices nearby.

There the lion accepted another hongbao…

...and took the gift-giver with it.

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posted by: Stan Kontogiannis on February 2, 2012  3:49pm

Wonderful cultural event and fortunate that it is in our City. I do hope this New Year’s event will grow over the year’s to become a major event for everyone to see and appreciate. I think we can never get enough of these wonderful cultural traditions and customs. Special thanks to the Yale-China Association.

posted by: Billy on February 2, 2012  4:27pm

Looks like a lot of fun! Why not do it when kids are out of school, rather than on a weekday at lunch time? Could be a great way for kids and their families to experience a piece of Chinese culture.

posted by: cedarhillresident on February 2, 2012  5:08pm

I so wished this was on the weekend :( would of been fun.!

posted by: Funky Chicken on February 2, 2012  5:43pm

@Bill - yes we should learn more about their culture so when they become our overlords we will have an idea what to expect.

posted by: Awesome on February 3, 2012  9:06am

How come THEY get to be Chinatown? They have a grocery store..that’s it. Not fair.

But this looks VERY cool. And FUN!

Let’s encourage more of this!!