By Kathy Hansberry & Denise Torres
Chinese New Year is celebrated around the world, including here in Hawai‘i. Its purpose is to honor Heaven and Earth, family ancestors and gods, and to bring good luck for the coming year. Today, we celebrate with loud fireworks and acrobatic lion dances to scare away evil spirits, and of course, with lots and lots of food. This year, we celebrate the Year of the Dragon – Outrigger style!
On Friday, January 27, six troupes from the Chinese Lion Dance Association performed a traditional lion dance simultaneously at Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach and Outrigger Reef on the Beach, followed by a grand finale lion dance and pole jumping performance at Waikiki Beach Walk®.
Guests and spectators at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach were especially captivated by the performances of the talented young members of the “Chinese Lion Dance Association.” The enthusiastic and energetic children ages 8 through 18 years old performed for two hours straight, as they danced and blessed the different areas of the hotel, including the Bell Desk, Front Desk, Valet Desk, Retail Shops and Restaurants.
In addition to the traditional lion dance, unique to this event was the Martial Arts demonstration and Chinese Pole Jumping performance at the Waikiki Beach Walk’s Plaza Stage. The pole jumping performance drew over a thousand spectators to Waikiki Beach Walk, and everyone in attendance was awestruck by the extraordinary performance of the Chinese Lion Dance Association’s pole jumping team, Hawai‘i’s ambassador to Hong Kong in the sport of pole jumping or “Jong” lion dance. This talented group has represented Hawai‘i in various international pole jumping lion dance tournaments in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The team has also been featured on a local television program as they traveled to Asia to compete against the best lion dance teams from around the world.
This event not only brought luck to each property but also provided a great opportunity for all guests, employees and bystanders to receive well wishes and good fortune for the New Year.
Mahalo to all who made this event a huge success: Chinese Lion Dance Association, Andy Chan of Island Jewelry, Ethan Chang, Luana Maitland, Conchita Malaqui and artisan Lynn Cook who conducted a special Chinese Card-making class for the guests of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach.
The celebration continued on Tuesday, January 31, as the OHANA Waikiki East welcomed The Year of the Dragon in grand fashion.
Traditional and symbolic foods were abundant. Gao, known as Chinese New Year pudding or mochi, symbolizes continued luck because its pronunciation is a homophone for “a more prosperous year.” Noodles symbolize long life in many Asian cultures because of its length. Jin Doi, a kind of Asian mochi donut, represents prosperity because of its golden color, round “coin shape” and the process of rolling and expanding contributes to the symbolism of continuing wealth.
Special thanks to OHANA Waikiki East GM Alan Naito who set off the 20,000 fireworks and kicked off the “East” festivities with a traditional lion dance by Ben Seng Au & Au’s Shaolin Arts Society. Soon after, over 100 employees and guests sampled Chinese traditional fare: Roast Pork, Jai, Chow Mein, Gau, Jin Doi, Mochi Rice, along with Chinese Happy Cookies and Good Luck Candy and enjoyed Good Luck Writing facilitated by Front Office Manager Suzanne Lee and Executive Housekeeper Yuet Oy “Ella” Au, as well as Good Luck Crafts.
“Kung Hee Fat Choy” to all!