The Year of the Tiger exploded onto the bayside town of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii on Saturday, as the annual Chinese New Year celebration drew thousands downtown.
Firecrackers and cymbal crashes punctuated the customary performance of the Big Island Shaolin Arts Lion Dancers, as the crowd moved from an opening blessing at the Mooheau Bandstand along Kamehameha Avenue, to the historic bayfront storefronts, blessing people and businesses along the way.
Eventually, the parade of lion dancers moved all the way to Kalakaua Park, where festival tents were filled with Chinese, Asian, Hawaiian, and local crafts, art and products, cultural practitioners offering information and demonstrations in Feng Shui, I-Ching, Chinese fortune telling, calligraphy, and tea. The free event also featured an international “Food Court” and entertained the masses with martial arts, cooking demonstrations, and a Keiki Chinese Costume contest.
The Hilo Chinese New Year Festival is presented by the Palace Theater, produced by Alice Moon & Company, and funded in part by a grant from the County of Hawaii Department of Research and Development through the Hawaii Tourism Authority. This is the 8th year for the Hilo event.
This year is the Year of the Tiger, according to the Chinese Zodiac, or Sheng xiao. The 12 zodiac signs that comprise the 12-year cycle are said to each represent a different personality type. Among other attributes, the tiger is said to be cold, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, aggressive, unpredictable, selfish, and even ruthless.
According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, approximately 50,000 Chinese men arrived in Hawaii in the mid 1800s to work in the sugar plantations. Today, about one-third of Hawaii’s population is of mixed Chinese ancestry.
Video by David Corrigan