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Lunar New Year Flower Festival Coming to Chinatown This Weekend

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The Fortune God, aka John Yu, President of Kinyu Realty

More than 100-thousand people are expected to converge on Sara D. Roosevelt Park this weekend for an event that planners say will be bigger and better than ever before: The New York Lunar New Year Flower Festival. To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, there will be live performances, educational cultural displays, booths featuring items from local businesses and, of course, flowers.

While New York has had flower festivals in the past, they have tended to be fairly small. This year, for the first time,  Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and the United East Athletics Association are teaming up to orchestrate an event they say will “rival the largest and most bustling flower festivals held in Asia’s biggest cities.” AAFE Executive Director Chris Kui says his organization was enthusiastic about getting behind the Flower Festival, not only as a community building opportunity, but also to help lift up small businesses struggling to survive. Dozens of shops and organizations will be represented during the two-day event.

Organizers and participants of the Flower Festival pose for a picture at AAFE's offices.

The Festival will revolve around the five main themes of the Lunar New Year: peace, prosperity, good luck, beauty and longevity.  One of the big attractions will be a special room – inside a 10-thousand square foot heated tent – decorated like a traditional Asian household on New Years Day. Visitors will learn all about the various new year symbols. There will be all sorts of traditional flower arrangements, but also some American-style Valentines Day displays. Also participating: a paper artist doing side portraits of visitors on the spot, a face changer (transforming from one character to the next in a matter of seconds) and a dance performance by students at a local school.

Another participant sure to attract a crowd this weekend will be the Fortune God, a figure said to bring good luck and prosperity (see photo above). Every year, Kinyu Realty’s John Yu dresses in full regalia, posing for pictures with kids and adults alike. Yu also sits on the board of AAFE’s Renaissance Economic Development Corporation.

Bags from Peony Red
Peony Red features Chinese-style dresses and accessories

Another business owner taking part in the Festival is Yanna Luo, a designer who runs the boutique, Peony Red, on Centre Street. She specializes in Chinese dresses and wedding gowns but also sells a wide variety of accessories, including handbags made by her sister.  During an interview at AAFE’s Division Street headquarters, Luo said things are finally starting to look up for her store after a brutal couple of years battling the economic downturn. She’s looking forward to the chance to get the word out about her business at the festival. Luo plans to have a booth showcasing some of Peony Red’s most popular items.

The New York Lunar Flower Festival takes place Friday (10a-10p) and Saturday (10-7) in Sara D. Roosevelt Park.

The Lo-Down is pleased to be a media co-sponsor of the Festival. We’ll be there this weekend to capture all of the sights and sounds.

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