City residents gathered at the Rail Park, located on Nobel Street near Broad, for a Lunar New Year event to celebrate the Year of the Tiger on Saturday, Feb. 5.
Lunar New Year begins in late January and lasts for 15 days. It signifies leaving the past year behind and embracing the future, and each year is represented by a Chinese zodiac, with 2022 being the Year of the Tiger.
From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., event-goers braved frigid temperatures to watch traditional lion dances performed by the Philadelphia Suns, a local organization for Asian youth in the Philadelphia area. Event-goers also had the opportunity to connect with local Asian Americans and Pacific Island organizations such as the Asian Arts Initiative, Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance, and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.
Rebecca Chan, 34, the executive director of the Rail Park, organized this year’s event after postponing the last two Lunar New Year celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chan wanted to hold the event this year to celebrate the community and return to normal.
“We want to celebrate the cultures in the neighborhoods that we’re a part of,” Chan said. “Lunar New Year is a big part of the Chinatown community. It’s part of all of Philadelphia really.”
For some attendees, this year’s Lunar New Year event was their first celebration. But, Maria Pino, 57, a retired resident of West Philadelphia, visited in past years and felt that this year wasn’t the same as pre-pandemic events.
“They had lots of vendors and food trucks, and it seemed it was a lot bigger event,” Pino said. “This was nice, except it was just a little crowded when they were doing the dance.”
Although the event is a celebration of new beginnings and adventure, there were somber moments for Abby Koziol, a junior social work major at Temple University, who celebrated Lunar New Year without their family for the first time this year.
It is important to have a community celebration like the one at Rail Park because it allows the Asian community to celebrate a yearly tradition in a public environment, especially this year with the increase in hate crimes committed against Asian Americans since the start of COVID-19, Koziol said.
“In order for the Asian communities to feel like they’re a part of society, having these events makes them feel more included.” Koziol said. “That’s really important as well to recognize the community and what they do.”