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A surprising first visit to Alhambra's Lunar New Year festival

Before going to Alhambra's Lunar New Year festival, I'd anticipated an event similar to what I had seen last year in downtown LA or in New York City's Chinatown in past years with lots of firecrackers, lion dancers, and dumpling stands. What I hadn't expected were the carnival rides, the lines for giveaways that often depended on the luck of a wheel, and the overwhelming presence of corporate sponsors. The Alhambra event appeared to attract more people than any of the other festivals I've been to, so people clearly enjoyed it.

But while I did come across a group of UCLA lion dancers and the dragon boats, as an observer, the commercial focus of the event surprised me. I'm curious: is this more typical of what Chinese New Year looks like in China these days than the more culturally focused festivals I have attended? Is this the suburban influence on the festival?

I was there with the Alhambra Source community contributors and we had the good luck to meet up with some very friendly local representatives: CERT volunteers, police officers, and Chamber of Commerce members. I also met the psychic Mrs. Lin's daughter and received my first card reading from her. 

Some pictures below. Do you have more pictures from Lunar New Year? Please them to the Alhambra Source flickr group!

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2 thoughts on “A surprising first visit to Alhambra's Lunar New Year festival”

  1. Lining up for freebies at street festivals, including at Lunar New Year festivals, is what you might call a tradition of going to these things. These festivals have always been this way, as long as I have remembered. The more freebies the better. Btw, Chinese supermarkets used to always give out freebies and calendars around the new years around here… or any other holiday.

    I think this year the corporate sponsorships were especially important because most cities have no money of their own to put these things on. I had one event organizer tell me to put in this long list of ALL the event sponsors and I told them people don’t actually want to read something like that.

    I missed out on the special performances this year (they had a lion dance at the beginning) myself. Last year the city of Monterey Park held a scaled down version of the event, had no vendors, just cultural booths and performances at the amphitheatre. I have some great pictures from that year because it was all cultural performances. People seemed to enjoy it quite a bit too.

    Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou
    Staff Writer
    Eastern Group Publications

  2. For local reference, see http://asianamericanexpo.com — the biggest clusterF suburban “cultural festival” in the Southland. LA lunar festivals have been turned into commercial carnivals. But don’t feel that bad for these events, the annual Ktown Festival is nearly as atrocious: http://www.atkoreatown.com/news/la-korean-festival-full-schedule.

    Would be interesting to hear from someone who has visited China/Taiwan etc., in the recent years during CNY.