CHINATOWN — The Year of the Snake started with a bang.
In celebration of the 2013 Lunar New Year, hundreds filled Sara D. Roosevelt Park Sunday for the 14th Annual Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival.
"As soon as we set off the firecrackers, that's going to scare away all the evil spirits," City Comptroller John Liu said just before the ceremony began. "If you look around at the thousands of people here in Chinatown, people are looking forward to great things this year."
Liu said the serpent portended a year of "wisdom, experience and resolve."
Costumed performers joined the revelers as they rang in the Chinese New Year at the event organized by the Better Chinatown Society.
"It's the first day of our new year," said Cathy Li, 32, who attended the celebration with her husband Andy Chen, 33, and their 2-year-old son Benson. "It's like Merry Christmas for us."
The family planned to celebrate by eating traditional Chinese food, Li said.
Also on Sunday, the Queens Zoo was scheduled to host a snake "meet-and-greet" event for those who wanted to get a closer look at the slithery creatures.
The Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival was set to run from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Grand and Forsyth streets.