Chinese New Year festival in Chinatown, featuring dragon made of plastic bottles and other recycled plastic. Photo by Margarita Alcantara.

Reporting From The Chinese New Year Festival, Chinatown, NYC

On January 31, 2012, I battled my way through the slowly-meandering crowd in the streets of Chinatown in New York City to catch the Chinese New Year Festival.  It was packed!  There were mostly Chinese folks in the crowd, but there were also a lot of out-of-state tourists, and non-Chinese folks in the mix.  It was too crowded for me to get any good parade pictures, but I did catch a few shots at Confucius Plaza, and at the vendor booths in Sara Roosevelt Park, off Manhattan Bridge.

I was drawn to Confucius Square, where a woman and man were singing Chinese opera, backed by some pretty fierce musicians.  As you can see in the picture, the one on the left is the “dark and brooding” baseline rocker of the bunch.  What was wonderful to see was the contrast of the opera singers and musicians on this commemoration, with the people in the balcony who were doing their weekly “pushing hands” to cultivate their internal qi (which is hard to see in this picture.)

Chinese opera being performed in Confucius Plaza. Check out the musician on the left, wearing shades. He was too cool for school. And you can’t see it, but there are people “pushing hands” in the balcony (it’s a form of internal martial arts training.) Photo by Margarita Alcantara.

At the entrance of the park, you could easily see the hand-made dragons hanging from the trees.  Can you believe they were made entirely of recycled bottles, and other recycled plastic?  Pretty resourceful!  I was surprised that there weren’t more vendors selling Chinese trinkets, goodies, food/pastries, that more of them were business-oriented.  It probably shouldn’t be such a surprise, considering that the fees for having a booth at the park has most likely been increasing in recent years.  There was one booth that was hosting some cultural dance, and the one I saw featured women in red outfits clicking bamboo castanets.  What I actually loved more than the dancing was the guy in the white suit, red tie, perfectly pomaded hair, and vaselined smile, who was MC’ing the performances, and seemed to come straight out of a game show because he was so much larger than life.

Plastic dragons welcome you to Sara Roosevelt Park, NYC. Photo by Margarita Alcantara.

And then on my way out of the park, I was suddenly jolted by the vision of a gigantic Snoopy near the exit way.

Snoopy at Sara Roosevelt Park. I think it had more to do with the fact that MetLife’s booth was nearby, rather than the Peanuts gang. Photo by Margarita Alcantara.

My day was made whole by taking a visit to Vanessa’s Dumplings, to have some pork and chive dumplings that are cheaper than a Metrocard ride!  (No picture of dumplings, my stomach took care of them straight away.)



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