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Dancing lions welcome 'Year of the Horse' to Southeast

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - By joining together in the center of the stage, these Chinese New Year Lions spread strength, wisdom, and happiness.Although the actual start of the Chinese New Year was on January 31 this year, many smaller celebrations were scheduled for the early in February. Sadly, many of them were cancelled due to our brief, yet intense, snow and ice storm then.

However, it’s lately been the tradition of Portland Community College Southeast Center to schedule what they called their “Asian New Year” – more specifically, the “Lunar New Year” – on President’s Day; this year that made it February 17.

Unlike those who use the Gregorian calendar to mark the start of the New Year on January 1, the Lunar New Year is set for the first day, of the first month, of the lunar calendar. In some cultures, this celebration goes on for days on end.

Again this year, the colorful PCC observance was held in McGuire Auditorium on the Warner Pacific College campus, just west of the PCC Southeast Center on Division Street at S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses.

“It’s a nice event for our community,” remarked this year’s Asian New Year Celebration Committee Chair, Naomi Barbos.

“It’s a great way to engage the students with the neighbors. It is family-friendly,” Barbos told THE BEE. “With this, we honor and promote the diversity of the Asian cultures here in East Portland.”

As participants entered the auditorium, they queued up for a lunch of teriyaki chicken, Asian vegetables, and rice.

PCC Southeast Center President Dr. Jessica Howard smiled, “We are very honored and proud to host this celebration of Asian cultures. This is an annual tradition for us. It more than underscores our support of our diverse and rich community.”

Taking to the auditorium’s stage, Dr. Howard welcomed the incoming guests and participants, and introduced politicians, dignitaries, and community leaders in the room.

According to speakers at the event, it was during the Chinese Han dynasty that animals became associated with a twelve-year cycle. 2014 is the “Year of the Horse”, a period of increased strength, independence, and good cheer.

The resonating beat of large drums and the clang of hand cymbals marked the start of the colorful “Lion Dance”. This year, the N. W. Dragon & Lion Dance Association brought three lively dancing lions to the celebration.

The three lions performed on the stage, but also pranced through the audience, spreading – according to Chinese tradition – strength, wisdom, and happiness for the New Year.

As is their custom, they gave away door prizes, donated by area businesses. The afternoon also included cultural dances performed by Woodstock Elementary School “Chinese Immersion” students.

By mid-afternoon, the celebration was over and the celebrants had left, having officially welcomed in this Asian New Year.

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