PHOTO: Children in traditional style of Chinese dress took part in a performance that included folk music, calligraphy and poetry. The children taking part were Jeremy Yu, Doris Du, Angela Zhang, Angela Shen, Allyson Wang, Evan Li and Connor Ye. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
by Heather Colpitts and Roxanne Hooper
More than 700 Chinese immigrants living in the Langley area came together Sunday (Feb. 5) to celebrate their homeland, their culture, and each other.
“If it wasn’t for the weather and the snow, we would have expected even more guests coming,” said Derek Chen, emcee of the Live in Langley Chinese Association’s lunar new year’s celebration.
He and others involved in the third annual event were elated with the turnout. Chen noted that the first year, the private Chinese New Year celebration was held at the West Langley Hall and involved about 200 people.
Last year, they moved the festivities to a slightly larger facility in Surrey, and attracted 500 .
This year, if harsh local weather hadn’t been a factor, he’s confident they would have topped a thousand – and the new venue at the Church of the Valley in Murrayville could have easily accommodated more, Chen explained.
The non-profit organization, developed by people of Chinese heritage in the community, was created to help 500-plus members bridge eastern and western cultures.
These are people, he explained, who are from Mainland China – but like him – who now call this area of B.C. home. He moved to Canada with his wife in 2001.
The organization started out of a web-based forum where locals could chat. Discussions evolved around hosting this annual new year’s celebration, and since then the association has been formed, Chen elaborated.
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PHOTO: Tanya Mai and Cheyenne Ding danced for a large crowd at the Lunar New Year celebration. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
This year, a few special guests and at least 700 members rang in the Year of the Rooster with a celebration that included food, entertainment, and fun.
The key to these celebrations, said Chen, is that everyone is involved. Attendees come together and socialize for the first hour and a half, mingling, visiting, and feasting on food provided by volunteers.
Then, the crowd moved inside the auditorium to enjoy back to back traditional singing and dancing, again performed by participants of all age.
It’s a family affair, everyone can get involved, explained Chen, who on top of his emceeing duties took his turn singing with others.
His wife, Brandi, performed a few traditional dance numbers with a group of women she meets with a few times a week to practise. And even their six-and-a-half-year-old son Jayden was on stage singing.
“We all come together as a community,” Chen elaborated.
It’s about helping with food, about performing, about parking cars and dumping garbage, he said. It’s about watching friends and family performing and it’s about coming together to celebrate Chinese New Year.
“From my perspective, I like that its all volunteer and everyone participates. I think that’s how you develop community relationships,” he said, noting he plans to increase his personal involvement next year.
While the event is currently limited to association members, Chen said there has been some discussion of one day opening it up to the general public.
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PHOTO: Ann Li, Min Wang and Sherry Guo were some of the members of a dance group that performed. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
PHOTO: Angela Zhang, Iris Zhang, Nathaniel Wen, Harper Hu, Celina Cao, Angelina Chen, Brandon Yang, Alexander Molander, and Lotus Jia were the youngest performs at the celebration. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)
In the meantime, for the ninth year running, staff at Muriel Arnason Library are hosting a Chinese New Year celebration next weekend that is open to the public.
Everyone is invited to join the library staff and some “special” artists to celebrate the lunar new year, explained Dr. Sarwan Singh Randhawa.
“Come and enjoy the Chinese dance items and a tai chi demonstration, make a craft and a lucky envelope, and taste some New Year’s foods,” he suggested.
This is a free, drop-in program.
All supplies are provided.
Originally, this event was set for Saturday, Feb. 4, but due to the winter weather, it was delayed. It is now being held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Muriel Arnason Library is located in the Township of Langley Civic Facility at 20338 65th Ave., or people can make further inquiries by calling 604-532-3590.