By Ivan Pereira
The Flushing Lunar New Year Parade celebrated the history and culture of Chinese and Korean residents, but that did not stop revelers of other backgrounds from coming out Saturday to ring in the Year of the Rabbit.
Milder temperatures helped draw thousands to downtown Flushing to see the floats, dancers and musicians march down 39th Avenue from Union to Main streets. Although it was one week after the actual start of the lunar new year, the parade-goers still enjoyed the sights and sounds of the festival.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Jason Wou, 22, of Washington, D.C., who was at the parade with his girlfriend, who lives in Flushing. “It’s a good gesture for everyone to come together and share our similar culture.”
Unlike the parade in Chinatown, the borough’s event featured both Chinese and Korean groups marching together and observing their distinct traditions for the new year. Flushing’s Korean population has grown tremendously over the years and has settled in the same area as their Chinese counterparts.
Steven Yee, 49, has been coming to the parade for years with his family and said the showcase of the two ethnic backgrounds makes the Flushing parade one of a kind.
“This seems to be bigger because it has the Korean culture and it’s great,” the New Hyde Park man said.
There were large floats with Asian artwork, confetti poppers and dancers dressed in traditional Chinese and Korean clothing. Annie Shin of Elmhurst, who has been marching in the parade for several years, said the event was special for her and other borough Asians because it takes place right outside their windows in Flushing.
“This is where we live, speak and come together,” she said.
Young revelers were glad to see some of the fun marchers, including the dragon costumes and pop music performances.
Sophia Lee, 38, of Flushing, was delighted to see the Shaolin Monks come out and perform their kung fu moves.
“I really like the martial arts presentation,” she said.
Among the 5,000 participants in this year’s parade were non-Asian groups, such as the New York Mets and Italian-American and black groups from the borough. Dian Yu, the executive director of the Flushing BID, which helped organize the event, said he and his fellow planning staff wanted the 15th-annual celebration to be more inclusive.
“We wanted to create a platform where not only people can learn Asian culture, but we can learn about other cultures, too,” he said.
Several non-Asian visitors to the area said they were impressed with the parade and how well it displayed the Chinese and Korean cultures.
“I think it is really interesting that it can be so vibrant in a location that is so far from their homes,” Kyle Pearson, 31, of Brooklyn, said of the parade.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.