Chicago Chinese New Year Celebrations to Kick Off Year of the Snake

By Casey Cora on February 6, 2013 7:10am | Updated on February 6, 2013 2:19pm

 The annual Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown draws marching bands and colorfully costumed performers.
The annual Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown draws marching bands and colorfully costumed performers.
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Flickr/Viewminder

CHINATOWN — The neighborhood’s cultural ambassadors are inviting residents from across the city to celebrate Chinese New Year this weekend, along with the 101st anniversary of Chinatown's founding.

This Chinese New Year — technically the year 4711, according to the Chinese calendar — is the Year of the Snake and the sixth sign of the Chinese zodiac, which consists of a dozen animal signs to correspond with the 12-year cycle.

Though the New Year technically starts Sunday, festivities kick off with New Year's Eve celebrations.

The Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days, with culinary and cultural opportunities found around every corner.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Chinatown:

Lion Dance, Deconstructed
Guests can snack on dumplings and other traditional foods, then be treated to a performance of the traditional lion dance, complete with drums, gongs and cymbals. Afterward, the dancers will offer a “deconstruction” of the dance that offers a behind-the-scenes look at synchronization and footwork. 2-4 p.m. Saturday at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, 238 W. 23rd St. $12 for general public; $8 for members.

Lunar New Year and Community Service Awards Dinner
Members of the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce will gather for a dinner celebrating local business and civic luminaries. 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at Lao You Ju, 2002 S. Wentworth Ave. Tickets are $75 per person or $750 for an entire table.

CAMC Lecture: Polly Bemis
Professor and author Priscilla Wegars will deliver remarks about the story of Polly Bemis, the Chinese-American pioneer sold by her parents and smuggled into America. Organizers say the lecture will dispel myths touted in a movie about Bemis’ life, chronicled in the book and movie, "Thousand Pieces of Gold.2-3 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago, 238 W. 23rd St. Free.

Annual Lunar New Year Parade
Fireworks begin the annual parade with a bang at 12:45 p.m. Feb. 17. The parade then steps off at 24th Street and Wentworth Avenue and heads north up Wentworth to Cermak Road. Thousands are expected to watch marching bands, colorful floats, teams performing lion dances and a 100-foot long “Mystical Dragon.” Free.

China National Symphony Orchestra Performance
The board of directors of the Chinese American Cultural Museum is inviting classical music lovers to  aperformance by the renowned China National Symphony Orchestra. But to catch it, you’ll have to head west to Wheaton College's Edman Memorial Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21; Tickets are $50 and available by contacting the museum at office@ccamuseum.org or by calling 312-949-1000.

And don’t forget about the Lunar New Year coupon, offering 15 percent discounts at many of the area’s restaurants.

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