Updated 02/10/2013 05:08 PM
Lunar New Year Starts With A Bang At Chinatown Firecracker Festival
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The city's Chinese community rang in the Year of the Snake on Sunday, and about 500,000 firecrackers and confetti cannons were set off at a cultural festival in Manhattan's Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
More than 50,000 attendees at the Lunar New Year festival also enjoyed watching lion dancers and eating traditional Chinese foods in the park.
"It is very, very tiring. The lion [costume] is maybe 15 to 20 pounds. At first you know it is light but then you keep dancing around and it gets tiring after awhile," said a lion dancer.
The very popular Chinese money god even made an appearance and those who attended the festival gave it rave reviews.
"I love seeing all the colors raining down from the sky and of course the noise and the crowds. It's just a lot of fun, it's why we came to New York," said an onlooker.
"I saw a lot of smoke and it was very, very loud," said another.
The ceremony is not for the faint of heart, but all the firecrackers are meant to give the lunar new year a good start.
"All the firecracker noise is to chase away the evil and then welcome the new," said Steven Tin, the executive director of the Better Chinatown Society.
"If you don't like the sound, I would suggest earplugs or just plugging your ears with your fingers. And if not, just go up close and enjoy it," said another onlooker.
Before the festival, organizers and Parks Department employees spent Saturday and Sunday morning rushing to clear the park of snow.
"They did most of the wonderful cleaning up yesterday. And then we have over 100 volunteers," Tin said.
This new Year of the Snake represents a thoughtful approach to tackling the challenges before us.
"This is the year that is suppose to signify wisdom, experience and resolve," said City Comptroller John Liu, the first Asian-American in citywide office.
The Lunar New Year celebration will continue throughout the week, culminating with a parade through Chinatown next weekend.