Locals celebrate extension of first-ever LIC Lunar New Year Celebration

A traditional lion and buddha dance around kids participating in activities. (Photo by Julia Moro)

Locals gathered at Jackson Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 9, to celebrate the extension of the Long Island City Lunar New Year Celebration, which will continue through Feb. 28 after positive feedback from patrons and participating businesses. 

Long Island City Partnership (LICP) launched the first-ever LIC Lunar New Year Celebration on Jan. 24, which invited more than 60 local businesses to participate. Originally scheduled to last only two weeks, the extension was celebrated with a child-friendly event at 26-15 Jackson Ave., where kids had the opportunity to make masks, practice calligraphy, spin a prize wheel and receive the traditional “red envelopes.”

Kids spin the wheel to win a variety of prizes. (Photo by Julia Moro)

Some participating businesses include Xi’an Famous Foods, Yumpling, New York Chinese Cultural Center and JACX&CO food hall.

Councilwoman Julie Won, the first woman and immigrant to represent District 26, joined the festivities to celebrate the ongoing LIC Lunar New Year Wednesday afternoon. 

“In Long Island City, we’ve seen a huge population growth in the last census from 2010 to 2020. We have 33.67 percent Asian-American population growth but we know that the census always undercounts,” Won said. “The Lunar New Year is a huge celebration that will continue to be a part of our community and we continue to support all that the small businesses are doing.” 

Council Member Julie Won addresses crowd at Lunar New Year celebrations. (Photo by Julia Moro)

Long Island City is among New York City’s fastest-growing Asian community with nearly 11,000 residents, according to census data. Many Asian-owned businesses have opened up in the Long Island City area in the past few years, many of which have been participating in the Lunar New Year celebrations. 

Jason Wang, the CEO of the local chain, Xi’an Famous Food, reopened its Long Island City location in April after closing due to a fire in 2020. During the Lunar New Year, Wang’s LIC restaurant is offering a signed version of their famous homemade chili oil. 

“The fight to make the Lunar New Year a national holiday in the U.S. has been an uphill battle,” Wang said. “I’m thankful to LICP and those that are representing LIC, has shown their support and give this holiday the recognition it deserves.”

Wang spoke about the struggles of owning a business during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying its been really difficult. He said he encourages everyone to participate in the Lunar New Year celebrations and support local businesses.

“As a long time resident of LIC, I know just how important businesses are to the fabric of the community,” Wang said. “We hope that everyone will take place in this celebration and support local businesses as this will shape the district we want to live in.”

LICP is a neighborhood development organization that advocates for economic development in the area. 

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