FLORHAM PARK, NJ - The Millburn-Short Hills Chinese Association (MSHCA) gathered amid the rolling hills of the the Brooklake Country Club to celebrate the second annual Moon Festival Gala on Sunday evening. After a successful inaugural gala in 2016, the MSHCA returned for this year with over 200 guests who mingled during a sumptuous cocktail hour followed by a sit-down dinner and performances to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Millburn teens Jennifer Murphy and Ranen Miao welcomed the audience and served as emcees for the evening's program. Murphy kicked off the dinner with a rousing performance of "Love on the Brain" followed by "The Moon Represents My Heart." Murphy has competed on the international stage and has won multiple awards for her talent.
The MSHCA welcomed many community leaders among the guests who addressed the crowd. Millburn Board of Education President Emily Jaffe thanked "We cherish our relationship with the Chinese Association," and continued on to reinforce the district's policy of inclusion. "We are completely committed to a diverse, welcoming, loving environment for all of our students and families."
Millburn Mayor Cheryl Burstein opened her remarks in Mandarin and was met with appreciative applause from the audience. "It is my honor to be celebrating the mid-autumn festival with all of you."
She continued, "We are delighted that you that you celebrate your traditions as a community and share them with us and the larger Millburn-Short Hills community."
Ed Foundation co-Presidents Lauri Palomaki and Simon Westfall-Kwong spoke about the Education Foundation mission and outlined how community support funded 85% of the grant applications last year. Fire Chief Robert Echavarria kept his message short and thanked MSHCA for inviting him and his wife to enjoy the gala and wished everyone a happy moon festival. Remarks by Chinese School MIOT President Jack Ouyang and Millburn High School National Debate Champions James Chen and Brian Zhu rounded out the honored speakers.
MSHCA President Louie Shen thanked guests for supporting the event and acknowledged many of the evening's sponsors. He also called up members of the MSHCA Board Members May Xu (Vice President), Xiaoxing Zhao (Secretary), Amy Yang (Treasurer) and Directors Wen Lee and Jeslyn Li.
A talented group of young performers from the Edelweiss Children's Choir wowed the crowd with a unique take on the well-known tale of the von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame. The choir performed many classic pieces and then transported the family to China in their musical play, 'The Secret Adventures of the von Trapp Family." Stage designer Liyun Xu hand painted the screens behind the performers to evoke both the Bavarian Alps and the Chinese countryside. The choir was joined by guest performers Jack Yang, Jonathan Xie and Theresa Brons. Amy Zhang, who’s the musical teacher heading the Edelweiss Choir was the musical director and worked countless hours to make the musical happen. The performance would not have been possible without her incredible sacrifice and dedication.
The Moon Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is held on the 15th day of the 8th month based on the lunar calendar, falling in late September/early October on the full moon according to the modern Gregorian calendar. It celebrates family and friends coming together, giving thanks for the harvest and a time for prayer looking for material or conceptual satisfaction. Moon cakes, with their round shape symbolizing completeness, are traditionally shared among families signifying unity. Moon cakes were served as part of the dessert platter to all guests to share in this tradition.
The Millburn Short Hills Chinese Association, currently 1,000 members strong, was established in 2005 to help serve the local Chinese community and introducing their tradition and culture to Millburn Township.