Cary, NC – When the Chinese Lantern Festival first came to Cary, it made a bigger impact than anyone expected. Now in its second year, the festival is bringing some new elements to celebrate Chinese culture.
Big Event Getting Bigger
The Chinese Lantern Festival was an unexpected hit when it started last year and was a big contributor to Koka Booth Amphitheater reaching its first budget surplus. Now, the festival is even bigger, with 15,000 LED lights making up the displays. This year’s Chinese Dragon is 200 feet long and weighs 18,000 pounds.
Among the changes are many new displays that reflect the influences behind the event, according to Cary’s Cultural Arts Division Manager Lyman Collins.
“We have the displays that show Chinese culture such as the new 12 Zodiac animals but we also have some displays such as the Christmas house that has a Chinese twist on it,” Collins said. “It’s interesting to see the merging of cultures with a Chinese interpretation of Christmas.”
The lanterns and displays were all assembled on-site, with cooperation between the Town of Cary and Tianyu Arts and Culture, Inc., and many were even designed specifically for the amphitheater venue.
“It’s a living example of the cultural diversity we have here in Cary,” said Cary Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha.
Lights and Motion
Not only is the Chinese Lantern Festival different this year because of the new displays and the increased size but there will also be performances at certain times during the festival for visitors to see Chinese dance, acrobatics and martial arts demonstrations.
“Every night is going to have something different,” Collins said.
The performers will be dancers Fan Li, acrobats Li Jianmei and Song Chuanyue and martial artists Chen Haozhe and Zeng Dingsheng, who are demonstrating Shu Bajiquan. All performers are international champions and coaches.
At the Chinese Lantern Festival’s sneak preview, performers demonstrated graceful dances, explosive martial arts and gravity-defying juggling, even going go far as to juggle with their feet. Speaking at the event, Yerha and Councilmember Jack Smith flipped the switch to light up the lanterns and remarked on how, traditionally, the Chinese Lantern Festival is associated with luck and that luck must be working.
“Last year, I was blown away,” Yerha said. “I knew it would be spectacular because Lyman said so.”
The Chinese Lantern Festival opens Friday, November 25, 2016 and runs until Sunday, January 15, 2017.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos by Hal Goodtree.