BELMAR, NJ — Belmar Public Library celebrated the Chinese New Year last night with a host of activities that included a look back at Chinese culture throughout the borough’s history.

Culling from the borough archives maintained by the Belmar Historical Society, library assistant Luis Pulido offered a retrospective based on his research, focusing on the earliest Chinese businesses. Here's a look at what he found:

In 1909, Charlie Yeah Wah, who immigrated from China, opened a laundry on Main Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. He and his wife, who came to the United States from Hong Kong, lived atop the laundry, which remained in operation through the 1930s.

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In 1922, the 10th Avenue pavilion on the boardwalk became home to Peking, the first Chinese restaurant in Belmar, drawing some 300 people to its grand opening.

Also during the 1920s, the Hong Kong Inn opened along the Shark River, operated by Jay Wong-Akie, who had earned a notable reputation for operating Chinese restaurants along the Jersey Shore.

In addition to Pulido’s presentation, participants watched a video on the 2020 celebration of the Year of the Rat — the symbol of renewal, wealth and vitality. It is the first of 12 zodiac signs based on the lunar moon cycles that are represented by animals in Chinese astrology.

They also engaged in several interactive and creative activities to celebrate the Chinese New Year, including zodiac reading, lantern-making and sign-making with the Chinese character, Fu, which means good fortune. When it is written on a special red sign and hung upside down on a front door during the celebration of the new year, it represents good luck.

And everyone got a taste of traditional Chinese cookies and treats — courtesy of Shirley and Andrew Yang of Triple Green Restaurant — and bubble tea from Elsie and Sheung Wong of Little Red Barn Liquors, who also donated red packets with lucky money for the children.

Chinese New Year, the world’s most-celebrated festivals, lasts 15 days each year and is highlighted by feasts, dance, family gatherings and many other traditions to mark the beginning of spring.

 

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