The Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) has arrived in Pittsburgh!
In Pittsburgh, the arrival of the Lunar New Year means two weeks of celebrations for the advent of the Year of the Fire Monkey, kicking off with all-day performances at the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center on Saturday, February 6, and ending on Sunday, February 21, with a parade in Squirrel Hill.
This is the first year that such events are being offered to the wider Pittsburgh community, due in part to two formal announcements from Councilman Corey O’Connor and Mayor Bill Peduto.
Councilman O’Connor issued an official statement called the Lunar New Year Proclamation, which recognizes the cultural and historical significance of the Lunar New Year to the Pittsburgh community.
Mayor Peduto issued a second proclamation to observe Chinese American Day every February 6 in Pittsburgh, in recognition of the historical and cultural contributions of Chinese Americans in Pittsburgh, especially the entrepreneurs who played an essential role in shaping the city.
Lunar New Year celebrations kicked off in Squirrel Hill and the Jewish Community Center with a performance by the Pittsburgh Chinese School Cultural Choir at 1 p.m.
Other events of the afternoon included a performance by the Steel Dragon Lion Dancers and martial arts performances by Oom Yung Doe. The OCA Cultural Youth Performance featured a variation on the Hand Drum Dance by the youngest performers of the afternoon, alongside a performance of Romance in the Palace and a solo performance of Dancing with the Wind by Rachel Sew. The Silk Elephant, a Thai restaurant in Squirrel Hill, also provided entertainment during the kick-off. Their performance was well-received by the younger attendees.
In between performances, attendees had a wide array of smaller demonstrations outside the theater. Attendees were able to have their names written in Chinese, make origami, paper lanterns and dragon masks, and browse vendor tables throughout the afternoon.
Margarte’s Fine Imports provided samples of tea and a coupon good for the duration of the festivities. Several restaurants and eateries provided food for sale for attendees unwilling to brave the cold air. Pink Box Bakery offered a wide variety of buns appropriate for the Lunar New Year, including pork and tarot.
OCA Pittsburgh had a table, advertising their Lunar New Year banquet on Sunday, February 7, and offered discounts to students for the banquet. The cost of admission covered the 12-course Mandarin-style buffet and performances by several Asian-American groups over the course of the evening.
The afternoon’s celebrations concluded with a performance by the Pittsburgh Taiko drummers.
The final event for the Lunar New Year will be a parade in Squirrel Hill on February 21 at 11 a.m. The parade will start at the corner of Murray and Phillips and will end at Darlington.