Asian Americans celebrate Lunar New Year

Celebrating team in Chicago land
Celebrating team in Chicago land

CHICAGO: The Asian American Coalition of Chicago celebrated its 33rd Lunar New Year Celebration – the Year of the Monkey – at Hyatt Regency Chicago on Saturday February 5 with the theme “Envision. Enlighten. Empower.”

The dinner banquet was hosted by the Chinese American community of Chicago, chaired by Dr Karen Eng President and CEO of CSMI. The celebrations brought together more than 1,000 guests including Asian American community leaders, dignitaries, elected officials, corporate sponsors and the City’s movers and shakers. The AACC Lunar New Year Gala is the largest event of its kind in the Midwest.

An extravagant Asian-inspired dinner menu along with an award ceremony to honor community leaders and outstanding youths and a captivating Asian cultural performance of local talent entertained the guests.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Secretary of State Jesse White, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Comptroller Leslie Munger, US Senator Dick Durbin, US Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth were amongst many Federal, State and local government officials. The Asian American candidates running for office in the upcoming primaries were also highlighted which included the congressional candidate Raja Krishnamurthi.

The Consul Generals of many Asian countries also attended. Indian Consul General in Chicago Dr. Ausaf Sayeed was recognized. More than 50 Indian American community members attended the dinner banquet.

One of the highlights was recognizing Asian Americans for their contributions and in this league two Indian Americans found their place getting the 2016 Exemplary Community Service Awards and the Youth Who Excels Awards. Dave Vasudevan, Owner, Adinfix Advertising Agency and founder of DigiSlate, Inc. received Indian American Community service award and Manpreet Kaur Teji, Sophomore at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, received the Indian American Community Youth Who Excels award.

ABC-7 Chicago TV anchor Linda Yu and Cary Chow of ESPN served as emcees for the evening. 2014 Miss Illinois Marisa Buchheit sang the National Anthem and “God Bless America.”

2016 Chicago Chinatown Miss Friendship Ambassador Kelly Yee Uchima sang “I Dreamed a Dream.”
This year, AACC’s most prestigious Pan Asian American Ping Tom Memorial Award was presented to Ms. Tuyet Le, the long-time Executive Director of the Asian American Advancing Justice of Chicago for her leadership in the advocacy work on behalf of the Asian American community.

The equally important recognition, the Grand Asian American Sandra Otaka Memorial Award was given to Illinois Senior Senator Dick Durbin for his tireless legislative advocacy on behalf of all new Americans and immigrant communities. A Moment of Silence for Veterans was observed.

The AACC, founded in 1983, is represented by more than 16 Asian American cultures including Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thailand, and Vietnamese communities. The 9 major Asian American communities have been taking turn to host this event.

Other performances included Youth Lions, Korean Drummers, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino performers and Shaolin Temple Martial Artists. A pre-event VIP reception, a silent auction, and a post event party was also held at the same venue.

It was announced that the 15th Annual AACC Festival will be co-hosted by the Chinese American and Pakistani American communities during the week of May 16-20 at Daley Center Plaza, Chicago. The Gavel was passed on to the Pakistani American Community who will host the AACC Lunar New Year Celebration event in 2017.

Presidential & AAPI greetings
US President Baraka Obama joined a large number of Asians across the globe greeting them with best wishes on the occasion of The Lunar Year.

In a message he said “this is a time filled with family, get-togethers, and anticipation for the New Year – a tradition I remember fondly from growing up in Hawaii. It’s a time that also gives us the opportunity to honor the many contributions of the Americans who celebrate this holiday. Whether they’ve been here for generations or they’re newly arrived, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have helped build our country and make us a beacon to the world.”

“The Year of the Monkey emphasizes shared values like leadership, innovation, and progress. It’s an opportunity to cherish the rich heritage that connects children with their past, and the traditions they’ll carry into the future!”

Echoing the President’s message, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) also greeted all those celebrating the Lunar New Year.

In its message it said “We share our cultures and traditions with one another not just in celebration of the new year, but also in celebration of the strength of the AAPI community. Our AAPI heritage spans from native people to immigrants to refugees. As a nation of immigrants, America draws its strength from the many cultures that collectively make up our melting pot and the shared hope in building a nation of opportunities and success for everyone.”

“The 2016 year is the Year of the Monkey. The monkey is often seen as a symbol of versatility and movement. We wish for a year of positive movement – moving forward on immigration reform, healthcare access, educational opportunities, and much more to help all Americans prosper and succeed.”

Rajinder Singh Mago

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