By Samuel Harwood
Chinese Lunar New Year Celebrations added color and excitement to Santa Monica last weekend, the courtyard at Santa Monica Place brimming with entertainment and culture.
Thanks to inventive organizing by the shopping center, there were a myriad of ways onlookers enjoyed welcoming in the Year of the Monkey.
Calming yet hypnotic sounds of the guzheng and dizi filled the air, while stilt walkers took people’s breath away. Red lanterns adorned the mall, with festivities a true communal experience.
Santa Monica Place’s Lunar New Year Celebration began three years ago as a way to “embrace the local Asian community and also to really invite the international Asian community, which is the largest growing tourism segment to the United States,” said Santa Monica Place’s Senior Marketing Manager Shoshana Puccia.
“We love bringing an element of culture to downtown Santa Monica,” Puccia said. “We feel like we have an obligation to be a part of this community and contribute to it and by bringing this kind of cultural event to it this is how we give back.”
Nine percent of Santa Monica’s population is Asian, according to the U.S. Bureau, with Puccia adding that the celebration was not only part of the mall’s commitment to “embrace cultures of many kinds” throughout the year but also to make sure downtown Santa Monica celebrated its local communities.
The weekend’s festivities also included a traditional Dragon Dance featuring seventeen performers, crafts for children, a maker of Chinese Dough Art and a performance by female students of Korean Fan Dance.
If you missed out, rest assured. Puccia said that, “We will be doing [this] for the years to come.”