On Feb. 1, it was loud at Northside Library as wildly beating drums announced the arrival of costumed lion dancers. Sponsored by the Santa Clara City Library Foundation & Friends, the Lunar New Year Spectacular drew about 2,000 attendees. This year’s Lunar New Year falls on February 19.
“I just want people to have fun,” says Cheryl Lee, branch manager and program coordinator of Northside Library. “Lunar New Year has been near and dear to my heart at my previous job, and I want to bring a little bit of a spectacle here to the Rivermark community. This day is celebrated not just by the Chinese but among other Asians as well, such as the Vietnamese, Japanese, and Koreans. The event is a great way to bring the community together for one morning and afternoon.”
According to Lee, lion dancing originated in China a thousand years ago. When performers from the Buu Kim Tu Dragon and Lion Dance Association brought this ancient tradition to the library, they captivated both children and adults with their stunts, such as extending a lion’s height so it could almost reach the ceiling.
Enjoying the lion dance was Kate Lin. Her daughter, Sophia, was dressed in a shiny magenta Chinese dress.
“My husband and I used to be in lion dancing,” Lin says. “He used to be the tail, and I was the head. This was back at our old kung fu school in Florida. Seeing this show brings back memories.”
After the lion dancing, Magician Chin-Chin performed a live magic show. Highlights included a card trick involving two young audience members and the shredding of a newspaper that was later revealed to be whole.
“I liked all of the magic show,” says Zuri Spencer, a second-grade student at Don Callejon School. “I liked the part when he pulled a real bird out of a picture of a bird. I also want to learn how he locked himself in a chest, freed himself, and then switched places with the lady.”
Also performing at the event was the California Chinese Youth Symphony. The ShanXi drummers, sponsored by Yan Can Asian Bistro, performed traditional Chinese drum music to do away with bad spirits and usher in good luck for everyone. Children, inspired by the drum music playing throughout the day, made their own craft drums in one of the library’s study rooms.
Lee, who is Chinese American, shares about what she usually does for Chinese New Year.
“I have dinner with my family and extended family, and we celebrate with friends too,” she says. “I also receive red envelopes with money inside.”