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Chinese New Year Celebrations draw big crowds in Chester

Chester celebrated the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit on Saturday January 21st, with record crowds to greet a parade of traditional music, lions and dragon dancing, non-combustible firecrackers and cultural characters.

After an absence from the streets of Chester of two years, performances took place in Eastgate Street and Exchange Square outside the new Market before a final display and thanks to everyone involved in Storyhouse.

The display also included a Tai Chi and weapons skills demonstration from the Ji Siu Tai Chi Chuan a group led by Maria Yuen based in Handbridge. The Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy with Steve Ornelas led the Lions and Dragon dances. Tutors from Wah Lei Saturday Mandarin school based at the University of Chester and volunteers delivered cultural workshops in Storyhouse.

The God of Prosperity, The Emperor of Heaven and The Happy Buddha were on hand to give out lucky red envelopes to the crowds, assisted by volunteers from Bank of America. In Chinese culture the Lion dance marks the welcoming of spring with the beating of drums to ward off the winter.  The green lettuce, which the Lion struggles to collect from a high point symbolises regeneration and goodwill.  The Lion collects and shares the goodwill by spreading the lettuce into the audience. 

Mia Tan, Chair and Founder of the Wah Lei Chinese Association said: “I’d like to thank all our volunteers who have made a difference in breaking down racial and cultural barriers in the community. Their commitment and hard work has helped us since 2009.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Council and Cabinet Member for Communities & Wellbeing said: “What a perfect way to start the year. A very happy year of the Rabbit.”

Iwona Szmidt, Managing Director, Foreign Exchange & Commodities Operations and Derivatives Confirmation & Settlement and Chester Site Lead at Bank of America added: “We are delighted to be a part of the Chinese New Year of the Rabbit celebrations and to once again support the Lunar New Year Parade in Chester in collaboration with our long-standing partner the Wah Lei Chinese Association. We wish everyone a happy Chinese New Year.”

The complete event was delivered by the Wah Lei Chinese Association supported by Bank of America and Cheshire West and Chester Council with the mayor, Cllr John Leather and senior figures from Bank of America present. The Wah Lei Chinese Association is also supported by Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Race Equality Centre, the University of Chester and Chester Voluntary Action.

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