Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra to host Ninth Annual Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival
Special to Prospector
KNOW & GO
WHO: Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS)
WHAT: Ninth Annual Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival and Parade
WHERE: Parade begins at Robinson Plaza corner of Commercial and Union streets. Festival takes place at Miners Foundry Cultural Center
WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 9, parade at noon, festival immediately following until 5 p.m.
HOW: The event is free. Donations gladly accepted to support CATS efforts
Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS), along with the Miners Foundry, proudly present the Ninth Annual Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival and Parade on Sunday, Feb. 9 beginning at noon at Robinson Plaza in Nevada City.
CATS hold the Lunar New Year parade and festival as just one way to fulfill the organizations mission, which is to promote cultural diversity through theater, events and workshops. The Year of the Rat celebration is a family friendly and free event (though donation boxes will be available at the foundry to support CATS efforts).
Executive Director, Marketing Director, and woman of many hats, Jeannie Wood emphasized that it is important to honor the Chinese history that was vital to the development of this region.
“Our area at one time had an influx of Chinese workers mining for gold and working on the railroad. We have a very rich history of the Chinese in our area. And, believe it or not, the early Chinese were from my area of China — from Southern China — so it’s personal to me. And also, to many of us who are Chinese American in the CATS group. This is another vehicle by which we share our heritage.”
Wood added CATS has grown and expanded as years have passed, “When we started CATS it was mainly doing one show a year and then it expanded to include cultural events, Asian themed and it just keeps expanding and expanding”
She said, someone mentioned Chinese New Year, so they added that. “It is like Christmas in our culture. So, we started very small in the beginning but little by little it has grown into a lot of work production.”
The parade will kick off at Robinson Plaza and move up Commercial Street through the historic Chinese district, then turn onto Broad Street, and across Bridge Street complete with police escort, before ending at the Miners Foundry. The event will take place rain or shine. The festival is already held inside, but should bad weather hamper parade activities, they will reroute it to circle the Foundry a couple of times and call it good.
The parade Grand Marshalls are Erin and Dan Thiem of Outside Inn and Inn Town Campground, but the main attraction is the seventy-two-foot-long Chinese dragon and dancers. Wood said, “The lion and dragon dancers come from Sacramento because we don’t have any of our own here, but they make the parade! They want to come every year. They love Nevada City. It’s one of their favorite places to be in the parade and to perform. They love our energy. They love our little community.”
Bell Hill School students have been studying the culture as part of their global studies curriculum and will take part in the parade. Wood said, “The history is not really taught much in the schools except to say the Chinese built the railroad. This takes it a little further.”
Martial arts groups, Taiko drummers, and other local groups will be in the hometown parade and then the fun will move to the Miners Foundry.
Entertainment will begin in Osborne Woods Hall and will continue throughout the day. A film by Chinese history expert Bill George titled “Chinese Builders of Gold Mountain” will be shown.
Festival organizers hope to make the experience authentic and real. Wood said, “There are people we know who are descendants of the railroad workers here.”
There will be a Chinese Tea Ceremony. They expect the Historical Society to be on hand to tell stories about the miners and expand on the impact they made here.
Vendors will include Horn of the Bull making Asian tacos and a kettle corn merchant will be selling bags of the crunchy confection as well. There will also be face painting and Year of the Rat inspired arts and crafts.
Woods encourages people to come out and celebrate, “We want to wish everybody a Happy New Year and for me personally, it’s reliving my childhood. What we are doing is trying. It’s a good taste of the culture. In San Francisco it goes on for two weeks. Come out and have a good time. I hope it will inspire people to think about their own heritage and culture. What were some of the traditions and all that? I just kind of want to stoke that in people.”
Wood emphasizes, “We definitely want to honor the early Chinese who helped build our community, worked in the mining and the railroad and their impact there. The history of the early Chinese Gold Rush pioneers and railroad workers of the Sierra should not be forgotten. The older I get the more important it is for me to embrace my heritage. The more we know about our heritage and our past, it becomes a source of strength rather than a thorn in our side. It is bigger than the sum of its parts.”
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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