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Vancouver Mall roars into Lunar New Year

Dancing lions amaze children in ‘really loud but really, really fun’ celebration

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
16 Photos
Audience members place money in the mouth of a lion character during a performance by the White Lotus dance troupe at Vancouver Mall on Saturday to celebrate Lunar New Year. It is tradition to feed the lion by placing a red envelope containing money in its mouth for good luck. (Molly J.
Audience members place money in the mouth of a lion character during a performance by the White Lotus dance troupe at Vancouver Mall on Saturday to celebrate Lunar New Year. It is tradition to feed the lion by placing a red envelope containing money in its mouth for good luck. (Molly J. Smith for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Children, families and shoppers gazed gleefully upon the troupe of lion dancers as the dancers pranced around Vancouver Mall’s Forever 21 Court on Saturday. The event was just one part of the mall’s celebration of Lunar New Year.

The loud sound of drums and cymbals filled the courtyard, attracting shoppers on both levels of the building to watch the jubilation. The dancers, one of which was a small lion manned by two children, began their show with a traditional dance in the center of the courtyard. They then danced through the crowd, inviting children and adults to pet them for good luck. Those in the know discreetly fed the lions money and red envelopes.

“It was great to see a showcase of the Asian celebration of Lunar New Year,” said Lily Wong, noting the importance of being able to expose children to the event and to different cultures in the community. The boys accompanying her had never seen the lion dance.

“It is great to know that in a small city, we can have this here,” Wong said.

“This was an excellent cultural display, and we really appreciated it,” Cherelle Jackson said. “Kids need to learn more about other cultures, and I’m so happy we got to bring our kids here for it.”

Jackson’s daughter was one of the many children in awe over the show.

“It felt really loud but really, really fun,” said Aolagi Jackson, 9, who’d never witnessed the dance before.

“It was so amazing,” said Aiyah Mateo. She and her sister Cadence were equally stunned by the performance.

The courtyard was marked with tombstones, each listing one of the 12 Zodiac signs, along with the signs’ associated birth years and characteristics.

“We are working on how to best celebrate and connect with communities as Vancouver does grow more and more diverse,” Vancouver Mall marketing manager Amy Tanska said.

“The dance is very specific for prosperity and good fortune, and so we’re wishing that upon all of our shoppers, our retailers, our employees and the guests at Vancouver Mall today,” Tanska added.

“The lion is bringing good luck to the mall here,” said Man Mai, a member of the White Lotus dance troupe. “Whoever pets the lion, we give them good luck.”

The drum, said Mai, gives life to the lion, while the drum and cymbals are played loudly to scare off bad spirits. Lion and dragon dances, which White Lotus performs around the region, bring good luck for the Lunar New Year celebration.

But while the dancing dragon is manned by eight to 10 people, the lion is manned by only two.

As part of the mall’s Lunar New Year celebration Saturday, red envelopes — each containing a gift ranging from a $2 bill to a $100 retailer gift card — were handed out to members of the mall’s MyPerks program.

The passing out of lucky red envelopes on Lunar New Year is a tradition in East Asian cultures. The gifts are historically given to family members and friends.

The luck isn’t actually associated with the money inside, but with the red envelopes themselves — red symbolizing luck and prosperity in Chinese and other East Asian cultures.

Tanska said the mall was happy to carry on that traditional gift giving, putting its own stamp on it with $2 bills.

As the afternoon progressed, a painting demonstration, a sculpture demonstration and calligraphy-printed bookmarks were all offered to mall members in the building’s MyPerks lounge.

This was the second year that Vancouver Mall has hosted its Lunar New Year celebration.

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