On a recent weekend, the Mitchell Park Domes were decorated with Chinese lanterns and ribbons, and multiple booths were set up to give visitors a taste of Chinese culture. The Chinese New Year celebration, sponsored by the Milwaukee Chinese Community Center, marked the transition from the year of the dragon to the year of the snake.
Andrew Wei, organizer of the event, noted, “Every year the numbers increase. I believe it’s because the growth of the media attention,” Wei added. Whether drawn by increased media coverage, the Chinese yoyos, origami or hot dumplings, people flocked to the celebration in droves.
“We’re from the Chicago area and we’re celebrating our second anniversary,” said Danny Mendez, who came with his wife. “To be honest with you, the economy’s a little tough so we just wanted to stay local,” he added.
“The Milwaukee Chinese Community Center has been celebrating the Chinese New Year here at the Domes for six years now,” said Wei. “During the Chinese New Year there are many parties and festivities and it’s a time of good luck and prosperity.”
A plethora of booths, most offering interactive projects, were at the disposal of the crowds of kids and parents. For example, at the calligraphy table attendees could get their name written in Chinese. Another booth provided materials to make a panda bear — the Chinese national animal — with construction paper.
Other family-friendly activities included playing ancient Chinese games, viewing the dragon parade, creating origami and eating. “The food is a big attraction,” said Wei, whose favorite is the fried rice. He also especially enjoys the Dragon Parade. “I get to beat the drums and the people — especially the kids — have a blast,” he said.
Visitors also were able to experience T’ai Chi Ch’uan, a form of Chinese martial arts, relaxation and meditation. “The first day …is basically learning how to relax and recognize your body and to let go of those tensions you carry day to day and you may not even know (it),” said Terry Reid, teacher assistant at the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Center of Milwaukee, 733 E. Locust St.
Mendez was glad he made the drive. “What’s pretty cool about Milwaukee is that you can learn about so many different cultures,” he said.