Elmhurst holds parade in late Lunar New Year

Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

Organizers of the third annual Elmhurst Lunar New Year celebration took to the streets Saturday at a rescheduled event after Snowstorm Nemo froze their previous plans, but bad weather followed them nonetheless.

Through persistent rain and cloudy skies, Korean drummers, a marching band and a lion dancer with its head wrapped in plastic made their way from Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Park, at 45th Avenue and Broadway, to St. Jame’s Episcopal Church, at 84-07 Broadway, for a festival to ring in the Year of the Snake.

“Unfortunately, every year we’ve had rain or ice or snow, but that doesn’t deter us,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said.

Elmhurst was scheduled to have its Lunar New Year celebration Feb. 9 with the newly elected U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) as grand marshal, but the parade was rescheduled as Nemo threatened.

While brief compared to the festivities in Flushing, the heart of the Asian community in Queens, Dromm said he started the Elmhurst event for the growing Asian population in the neighborhood. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in several Asian cultures.

“What we’re trying to do is plant the seeds for civic engagement and community pride,” Dromm said.

The event began with a performance by the New York Hung Sing Kwoon Coy Lee Fut Lion Dance Team from Flushing at the park. Then a few hundred marchers made their way to the church. Despite the many marchers, the parade kept to the sidewalk with a police car occasionally blocking off car traffic to help them pass.

Inside the church, several hundred stayed for performances from the IS 145 Marching Band, the Korean Traditional Music and Dance Institute of New York, the Elmhurst Dancing Group, the Hung Sing Kwon Dragon Dancers and John Yu, a musician who works with traditional Chinese instruments.

Other community-based organizations also set up booths with literature at the church.

Neighboring Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said events like these celebrate the growing new population in the borough.

“It’s a beautiful occasion,” Vallone said. “The Asian population is really what’s making Queens better and better.”

Warren Chan, of the Asian Communities United Society, said he has been working with Dromm to arrange the event since its inception.

“I hope that I can work much more with the councilman to do more Asian festivals,” Chan said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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