Queens Borough Hall ushers in Year of the Dragon during Lunar New Year celebration

Saturday, Feb. 10 marked the start of the Lunar New Year-also known as Chinese New Year-for billions of celebrants in New York and across the globe. 2024 ushered in the year of the dragon, one of the most auspicious signs of the Chinese zodiac.

On Monday Feb. 11, the Queens Borough president’s office hosted their second annual Lunar New Year Celebration at borough hall. Hundreds of people wearing red-to symbolize prosperity-showed up to enjoy an assortment of food including steamed buns, pan fried dumplings, japchae (Korean glass noodles), and various other delicacies. The Lunar New Year celebration included multiple performances, and a ceremony to honor the special guests of the evening including the Apicha Community Health Center, lobbyist Susan Chen, Mitchell Wu of the Chinese American Planning Counsel and members of the Buddhist Tzu Chi foundation, a global humanitarian charity organization.

The night kicked off with a colorful and energetic Lion Dance by the Tai Look Lion Dance group.

Crowd watches the lion dance performance. Photo by Athena Dawson

Following the performance, the emcee for the evening, Ahyoung Kim, director of economic empowerment for the Asian American Federation, greeted the crowd. “Lunar New Year is a time where we all come together to celebrate the change of the zodiac. For those who don’t know, the dragon in our culture symbolizes confidence, intelligence and enthusiasm,” she said.

Following Kim’s speech, three performers from the Korean American Family Service Center, adorned in traditional Korean hanbok attire, performed an elegant drum dance for the audience.

Traditional Korean Drum dance performed by members of the Korean-American Family Service Center. Photo by Athena Dawson

After the performance, sign language performers representing the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation took the stage to gracefully sign to upbeat songs playing in the background. A few local government leaders and judges made an appearance during the festivities including Councilwoman Linda Lee and Queens civil court judges Karen Lin and Wendy Li.

Members of Tzu Chi perform for the crowd. Photo by Athena Dawson

“I have to give it up to all the folks in the community, many of you sitting right here that advocated for Lunar New Year to be recognized on the school calendar, and thanks to all of your advocacy it is finally being recognized in the city and we’re working on the state, ” Lee said. “I’m also very proud as one of two Korean Americans, myself and Julie Won, we are the first Korean Americans elected to the city council. This is a big deal because for the very first time not only do we have the first Korean Americans, we have seven Asian Americans out of 51 that has never happened before.”

The celebration came to a close with a final performance by vocalists from the Korean American Association of Queens and the deputy borough president, Ebony Young honored each of the recipients of the night with plaques.

Honorees of the evening take a picture with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards. Photo by Athena Dawson