Xīn Nián Kuài Lè – 新年快乐 – Happy New Year!
On January 28, everyone around the world celebrated Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year in other countries and cultures). We said farewell to the Year of the Monkey and welcomed the advent of the Year of the Rooster.
This also was the day that Chapel Hill hosted its first-ever large scale festival, called the LIGHTUP Lantern Festival, which culminated after months of meticulous planning by dozens of volunteers from the Chinese School of Chapel Hill (CSCH) and others in the community, including the teachers, students, and families of the MDL Program at Glenwood Elementary School. The festival occupied the entire common area of University Place mall and offered all-day performances, free hands-on activities, and games for the children; a dragon dance competition; lantern painting and a silent auction; a lantern parade; and, of course, Chinese food from seven area restaurants.
The Glenwood MDL program was a major participant at the festival and even brought home some prizes from the competitions. Our team of volunteers included roughly 35 parents and more than 200 students (a few of whom were Glenwood graduates). We hosted a booth that offered visitors the chance to make a lucky goldfish ornament, which was immensely popular. Visitors came nonstop throughout the day, making nearly 200 ornaments in total.
All of the students from kindergarten through fifth grade performed on stage with their classes, dressed in traditional Chinese clothes and singing songs or putting on a fashion show. More than fifty of our brave parents and students formed four dragon dance teams for the competition, and one of the teams from the 4th and 5th grade made us very proud by bringing home the prize for second place in their category. A handful of parents and children also painted and decorated nine lanterns for the silent auction, four of which were the top earning lanterns at the auction. The proceeds from the lanterns totaled $510, which the MDL program has donated to Glenwood’s PTA.
All in all, the festival was a huge success and surpassed everyone’s expectations. The organizers were expecting about 5,000 visitors for the festival, but they estimate that twice that many actually came. In addition to the enormous efforts of the CSCH and volunteers from the Chinese community, the festival received tremendous support and sponsorship from the Chapel Hill town leadership, particularly Mayor Pam Helminger, as well as local organizations, commercial entities large and small, and even the WCHL radio station. No doubt, their support contributed to the success of the festival as well.
Submitted by Linda Trees, parent of a first-grader in the Mandarin Dual Language Program at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill. Linda also serves on the Outreach Committee of the Glenwood Mandarin Advisory Council.