Eunice Kim, staff writer
The Beverly Hills’s third annual Chinese New Year took place on Feb. 8 on North Rodeo Drive. The Chinese New Year festival was supported by East West Bank, the Beverly Hills Courier, San Marino Tribune, Sing Tao Daily newspaper, China Airlines and Two Rodeo Drive. The festival was hosted by Michael Ryan, a television host in China, and Nancy Shay, a co-host.
This year, the new year represents the horse. Each year, one of 12 animals from the Chinese New Year zodiac is represented. There are many fables and myths explaining the origins of the zodiac. However, the mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig the arrangements of the animals are all same throughout the myths. Each animal represents different aspects of life.
The Chinese New Year festival is a vital part of Beverly Hills’s economy according to sales and marketing service manager Benjamin M. Gutierrez.
“The Chinese visitor is very important to Beverly Hills,” Gutierrez said. “Typically the Chinese culture enjoys luxury goods and services. Travel from China to Los Angeles is expected to continue to increase every year so we want to make sure guests experience Beverly Hills.”
The festival was prepared by Beverly Hills CVB. The CVB selected performers for the Chinese New Year through interviews and recommendations. Gutierrez explained that the CVB likes to hire people who are dignitaries in the Chinese community.
Although the actual new year began on Jan. 31 Beverly Hills celebrated it in February for a specific reason.
“There were many celebrations throughout Los Angeles for Chinese New Year, so we wanted everyone to have an opportunity to participate in Beverly Hills’ event. [Before this festival] Beverly Hills was actually celebrating in San Gabriel Valley for the Chinese New Year Festival by having a booth and a lucky draw,” Gutierrez said.
The festival began as Ryan and Shay introduced themselves and explained why Beverly Hills celebrated Chinese New Year. All statements were repeated in Chinese for the convenience of Chinese visitors.
“Beverly Hills celebrates the Chinese New Year because Beverly Hills is a place that welcomes people from all over the world,” Ryan said in the opening.
The hosts introduced Julie Wagner, the Visitor’s Bureau Chief Executive Officer of Beverly Hills. She thanked all the sponsors of the event and mentioned the “good fortune” envelope which contained special February offers for visitors. She further thanked special guests for joining the festival and encouraged visitors to look at the horse statue, the Storm Castle.
“On Rodeo you’ll see that we have a world-class sculpture from renowned artist Deborah Butterfield. I don’t think you could miss it; it’s ten feet tall,” Wagner said.
Wagner finished her speech by introducing Vice Mayor Lili Bosse. Bosse explained the symbolism of the animal that represented 2014.
“This year is the year of the horse, the year of prosperity and the year for energy,” Bosse said. “We are the city that has prosperity and energy.”
Shortly after her speech, the hosts presented the ribbon girls, who performed gymnastics with Chinese music. Later, an acrobat caught dishes that were thrown by his assistant while riding on a unicycle. Following the acrobat, Ryan sang the song “Rosemary” in Chinese.
After “Rosemary,” The Man with Many Faces performed tricks by switching his masks without using his hands.
The Folk Costume Extravaganza, which followed the Man with Many Faces, showed models with various traditional Chinese clothes.
After that, the Shaolin Temple Martial Arts Academy performed various martial arts along with swords-play and spear-play. After that, the festival was finished with the Lion Head finale, a finale for the past three Chinese New Year festivals. This featured people with lion-head masks performing around the stage while being fed by a member from Consul General’s Office.
Beverly Hills will start planning for next Chinese New Year festival around October. They hope to obtain more participation and support from nearby business. They also want to attract more Chinese visitors.