Chicago officials are marking the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit ahead of the return of Chinatown’s annual parade this weekend.
At City Hall Wednesday, Ald. Nicole Lee, the first Asian American woman to serve Chicago’s 11th Ward, along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other elected officials, joined together to observe traditional lion dances and hand out red envelopes, a symbol of good luck.
“These celebrations are a way for us to come together and really get the new year started off right,” said Lee. “The Lunar New Year is a sacred time for Asians across the country.”
Lee began the presentation with a moment of silence to honor the 17 victims lost to recent gun violence in California. On Saturday, a gunman killed 10 people at a Lunar New Year celebration at a ballroom dance hall in Monterey Park. Then Monday, seven farm workers were killed in Half Moon Bay.
In the wake of the tragedies, extra police will patrol Chicago’s Chinatown parade on Sunday. Organizers also have hired private security. Alderman Lee says the violence shouldn’t deter spectators.
“We cannot let fear get into the way of us living our lives,” said Lee. “I think community is what we need to be all about right now.”
“Out of these hardships and struggles, we emerge with resilience and determination to make a better future,” said Preckwinkle.
Preckwinkle, who was the first Black woman elected to her position, also acknowledged the importance of celebrating culture and representation in elected office.
“Having representation and good leaders that reflect the diversity of our county and city makes a difference in how we enact policy and contribute to the vitality of our region,” she said.
Chinatown’s Lunar New Year parade steps off at 1 pm Sunday, Jan. 29, at the corner of 29th and Wentworth.