BELMAR, NJ — An evening of traditional Chinese dance and dining ushered in the Year of the Pig at the Belmar Community Center/Library Annex last night.

Spreading a message of good luck, good health and good fortune, students from the Jersey Shore Chinese School of Holmdel delighted nearly 200 attendees with performances of the double lion dance, two folk dances, and demonstrations in Chinese yo-yo and tai chi.

The February 7 festivities came on the fourth day of the 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, according to Chimin Hu, the school’s activity coordinator.

Sign Up for E-News

Serving as emcee for the event, Hu explained that the colorful observance is marked each year by family gatherings, fireworks to ward off “the monsters” and a display of illuminated lanterns on its final day.

After each performance by the young students — ranging in age from 8 to the mid-teens — she explained the significance of each dance and demonstration, recognizing the many hours of practice each youngster spends mastering his or her talent.

The festivities also included a buffet-style dinner featuring a wide selection of Chinese cuisine from Triple Green restaurant in Belmar, served up by Belmar Public Library staff members and volunteers.

And each attendee did not go home empty-handed. In celebration of the Year of the Pig — the symbol of fortune and wealth — everyone was given a special red envelope with a chocolate coin inside. Hu told the gathering that placing it under your pillow at night during the Chinese New Year will not only keep away “the monsters,”  but it will bring prosperity and luck throughout the year.

In top photo, Kylee Lau and Chloe Lee perform the Chinese folk dance, “Raindrop Falls on Banana Leaves”; middle row at left, Kyle Gardina, Sean Gardina, Samuel Hampel, Alex Poon and William Soon are the Chinese lions in the dance, “Prosperity from Twin Lions”; and sisters Kaitlyn and Claire Chien dazzle with the folk dance, “Elegant Sleeves.” At bottom, all the performers from the Jersey Shore Chinese School wish the audience a “Happy New Year.”

TAPinto Belmar/Lake Como is Belmar and Lake Como’s only free daily newspaper. Accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, it is the official electronic newspaper of both municipalities. As a locally owned news organization, TAPinto through its advertisers is able to publish online, objective news 24/7 at no charge. Sign up for its free daily e-News, and follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

Download the free TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS to get news as it is happening.