By Patrick Donachie
Large crowds came out in the biting winter weather last Saturday to enjoy the Flushing Lunar New Year parade, which featured a host of troupes, sponsored floats and multiple colorful displays of the Chinese Dragon Dance.
Elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and state Sens. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) and Tony Avella (D-Bayside), gathered at the parade’s outset to lead the many performers. Avella, whose district includes part of the parade route, said it was a “great day” for constituents.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated by many eastern Asian cultures. The parade was organized by a coalition of community groups led by the Flushing Chinese Business Association and the Korean American Association of Queens. It kicked off at 11 a.m. and ran down Sanford Avenue before turning and eventually passing the Queens Library and Long Island Rail Road station on Main Street.
One Flushing resident stood along the parade route, waving a Korean flag in one hand and an American flag in the other.
She was reluctant to give her name but said she had immigrated to the area in 1960, and used to march in the parade with Korean Community Services. She laughed and waved to friends and strangers who jubilantly braved the cold to march.
“It’s a time to celebrate and enjoy,” she said. “Everyone seems happy.”
On the steps to the Queens Library at the corner of Main Street and Kissena Boulevard, hundreds held aloft iPhones, taking the opportunity of having an elevated perch for a better picture.
On the upper floors of the library, people peered through the windows onto the festivities below, while on the ground floor a table was set up to encourage interested crowd members to sign up for IDNYC, a municipal identity card. A small waiting area was stocked with plastic chairs, which were full to the brim.
Though much of Main Street was particularly crowded, other stretches of the parade route were comparatively empty, with the drop in temperatures perhaps contributing to a slightly smaller crowd. Janice Chin, from Flushing, said she marveled at “the movement and the color” of the Chinese Dragon Dance displays peppered throughout the parade.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said, snapping photos of the participants while alluding to the fraught political environment in the borough and country. “I love seeing this much humanity right now, especially with the cold and with everything that’s going on right now.”
More Lunar New Year celebrations will occur throughout the month, including a Feb. 22 event at City Hall hosted by City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing).
Chin said she preferred the Lunar New Year Parade in Flushing to the Chinatown parade, due in part to the crushing crowds in Manhattan.
“Here you’ll get close to the parade,” she said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona