By Chris Fuchs
Although the two coalitions of Asian Americans struggled over the rights to a parade permit for the Jan. 27 Lunar Festival, the annual event held in downtown Flushing to usher in the Asian Lunar New Year was set to go forward smoothly.
The controversy started back in November, when one coalition, the Lunar New Year Festival Committee 2001 (which has put on the parade since 1995), held a press conference with the then-chairman of Community Board 7, Adrian Joyce, to introduce the media to the committee organizing this year's parade.
A week later, the Lunar New Year Festival Committee, a second coalition which co-organized the parade in 1998 and 1999, called its own conference, accusing Joyce of injecting politics into the parade.
The Lunar New Year Festival Committee, a group comprised of Korean- and Chinese-Americans, charged that Joyce had singlehandedly appointed the other coalition, whose members are mostly Taiwanese-Americans with some Korean-Americans as well, to lead the Jan. 27 parade. They also called for Joyce's resignation as chairman of the community board.
In an interview in November, Joyce said the community board only assists in filing the parade permit, taking on a secondary role of shepherding the paperwork through the proper city channels. And that's it, he said.
So for about a month, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, little progress was made. The Lunar New Year Festival Committee 2001 held press conferences every Thursday at the Flushing Sheraton LaGuardia Hotel, even though there was little or no news to report.
Nothing was heard from the other committee – that is, until nearly three weeks before the parade.
A parade permit had been issued by the 109th Precinct to the Lunar New Year Festival Committee 2001 in early January, and the other coalition was, in a word, incensed. Some of the coalition's members said they would not attend the parade, and others mused about holding a separate event.
Both coalitions have said, time and again, that they want the Jan. 27 parade to be harmonious, free of the China-Taiwan politics which have surfaced in past parades.