MONTVILLE, NJ -- The Northern New Jersey Chinese Association’s Chinese School celebrated the Chinese New Year at a performance held at Montville Township High School on Jan 10. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen also attended, as he does most years, according to former Chinese Association President Margaret Lam.

The Chinese Association was founded in 1957, and its associated Chinese School is held every Sunday at the high school.

Frelinghuysen presented President’s Service Awards to five of the students (see the article describing the award HERE), and told TAP into Montville, “I’ve known Margaret [Lam] for about thirty years, and I’ve been coming to this event for about twenty years.  It’s a wonderful school, run entirely by volunteers. It’s always exciting to see the New Year’s performance.”

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Honored guests also included Karen Wang, Director, and Yvonne Wang, Deputy Director of the Culture Center of Taipei Economic and Culture Office in New York, which provided a new dragon costume for the group this year.

Dr. Karen Cortellino, Member of the Montville Township Board of Education also attended, and said, “Thank you for inviting the Board of Education, and me personally, to this event. I look forward to it every year. I’m proud of the relationship the Montville Township School District has with the Chinese community. I’m particularly honored to be considered your friend.”

The celebration began with the dragon dance, led by members of the 10A class, Dr. Jimmy Chiang and teacher Charles Chen. Since the costume was new, first the “Eye Dotting Ceremony” had to take place, which Wang conducted.

“Dotting the eyes of the dragon or lion with ink means opening their eyes so that they become lively and powerful,” explained Lam. “Each dragon or lion needs to be dotted only once. That is traditional.”

See the dragon dance here:

Next was the dance for a “Joyful Chinese New Year,” performed by the School’s dance class and directed by teacher Jennifer Zhan.

Next, Chinese School graduate Janet Liu sang “Part of Your World,” from “The Little Mermaid.” Liu is the 2014 gold prize winner of ICPEN My Great Stage, and the 2015 first prize winner of the Water Cube singing competition.

See her performance here:

Children from Fanny Yao’s CSL 1 class performed a skit called the “Two Pigs,” then Chunmei Qiu’s CSL 2 class performed a dance. Chia Hui Lin and Heui Chiang Huang’s 1A and 3A classes performed a dance called “The Promise of a Rainbow.” Other performances included songs, skits, and even a skit called “Crazy Flight” by the adult-level Chinese class. There was also a karate performance. Ellen Tiu and Erhya Kang’s singing play class and Zhu Yin class performed “Finger Exercises,” which can be seen here:

See a compilation video of many of the performances here:

After the performance, the students, teachers, parents and guests adjourned to the cafeteria, where there were oranges – traditional good luck symbols for the Chinese New Year – and pizza, not as traditional, but fun. The children were given red tickets, and when they came to the honored guests and gave a Chinese greeting, such as “Happy New Year” in Chinese, they were given “good luck money” in a red decorated envelope.

“The Chinese New Year, which will begin February 8th, is very much like the American Thanksgiving,” Chinese Association President Dr. Jimmy Chiang told TAP into Montville. “We have family get togethers over a big meal. At midnight, we light fire crackers to scare away ‘the monster,’ which is the new year. Giving away money to those who don’t have it is also considered good luck.”

Other guests included, Lam, who is Senior Advisor of the Overseas Community Affairs Council and Chair of the New Jersey Chinese Festival Committee and her husband David Yen, who is Vice Chair of the New Jersey Chinese Festival Committee; Dr. Tahsin Chou, Coordinator, Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC); Mitchell Chung, Coordinator, Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC); Bill Woo, Owner, Kam Man Food; Shinwen Lin, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Hwa-Yin Youth Chorale; Tina Chen, Head of the Hwa-Yin Youth Chorale; HSBC Bank sponsored the refreshments for the after-celebration.

新年快乐 – "Xin Nian Kuai Le" - Happy New Year!