WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Area Chinese American Association celebrated Chinese New Year Sunday with a festival at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield.

“We are very excited to have this opportunity, connecting with old friends,” Lu Qiu, treasurer of WACAA, said. “It's also great meeting new friends, to promote Chinese culture and enjoy this happiest moment of the year.”

Chinese New Year was Jan. 28. This is the year of the rooster. Sunday’s event in Westfield marked the end of the 15-day celebration.

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The event began at 3 p.m. with kids’ activities including face painting, balloon making, mini golf and several contests, including ping pong, word play games and arts and crafts.

“It was wonderful because there are so many kids with the same kind of background and they learn the Chinese culture here,” said Zhiqiang Yang, a Westfield resident whose 9-year-old daughter was enjoying the festivities. “The kids are born in America and they don't have the opportunity to learn Chinese culture. This a great opportunity to expose to this great tradition.”

The traditional dinner served that night was made by local restaurants and parents. The style was Shanghai, with dishes including fish, dumplings, rice, eggplant, shrimp, spring rolls and spareribs. The meal finished with homemade desserts.

“It’s very authentic Chinese food, made fresh today,” said Claire Zhuang, who lives in Westfield and has a 7-year-old daughter, Mia. “Most importantly, it creates a great family-like atmosphere like what we would do at home.”

The evening capped off with a grand performance talent show featuring a dragon dance, talk show, Westfield Youth Orchestra and many other singing and dancing acts.

A frequent contributor to Tapinto Westfield, Mike Cohen is the founder/director of Throwback Sports (a sports program for children of all abilities) and the sports editor of Education Update. Email him at throwbacksports@verizon.net.