Carney expected to help bring center's newest Lion 'to life' at ceremony Friday evening

The Chinese American Community Center’s annual festival returns for 2017 at its regularly scheduled time, and with some new hands-on activities for guests to try.

Having been held in the sweltering August heat last year, due to the Hockessin based center’s ongoing renovations, the festival is back in June this year, and as usual, it’s packed with fun things to do.

Visitors to this year’s festival will get a rare treat if they turn up on opening night Friday, June 23.

There, Gov. John Carney is expected to help bring the center’s newest addition to “life.”

CACC Dragon and Lion Dance Club manager Check Quon said that Carney will paint eyes on the center’s newest lion, used in a variety of dance performances, for an eye-opening ceremony.

“With the Dragon and the Lion, you open the eyes once in its entire performance life, so it’s kind of a special occasion to do it,” Quon said. “The idea is, the lion itself is not alive, but we paint eyes so it can see, a dot on the mouth so it can eat, and then the nose and the ears.”

The dancers then touch the lion’s body, and the creature then comes to life and begins performing, Quon said.

The lion dance tradition dates back to the Tang Dynasty over 2,000 years ago, and is performed generally on happy occasions, like weddings, new businesses, and Chinese New Year, Quon said.

“The mythology behind the lion is that there was a monster in the mountains that was terrifying the villagers,” Quon said. “So they made a Papier-mâché lion, and using gongs and firecrackers, drive away the evil spirits and bring in the happiness.”

FASHION SHOW & COOKING DEMOS

Juliana Soo, CACC cooking club chair, will be giving cooking demonstrations on a variety of traditional dim sum Chinese dishes, including dumplings and spring rolls.

Soo said that the cooking club at the center is one of the more popular clubs – so much that it’s impossible to get in, she noted.

“People have been members a long time, so they have to retire before we let someone else in,” she said.

Also new this year, the CACC’s Golden Autumn Runway Walking Club will put on a fashion show of traditional Chinese dresses, with the style dating back to the Manchurian period of the Ching Dynasty (hence the term, “Manchurian Collar”).

“The Qipao is what we wear as a traditional dress, and they are designed to accentuate the female form,” member Harriet Chow said. “Sometimes they’re shorter, but the collar is always the same. It brings out our best features.”

Guests can also learn about the art of shadow puppets, and even try their hand at performing with the delicate, hand-made “puppets,” that are actually dried leather pounded that is clear and then painted.

The festival also features a number of cultural performances and demonstrations, including Dragon Dance, Lion Dance, Folk Dance, Tai Chi, Cooking, and Kung Fu.

This year, Magician Paul Hsiao, from New York City, will also hold a command performance for guests during his first visit to the festival.

And of course, the delights at the food court will continue to attract hungry visitors. Authentic Chinese cuisine is served, and visitors can sample home cooked dishes, Hong Kong style barbecue pork, snacks and refreshments. 

The CACC is a non-profit organization serving the greater Wilmington and Southeastern Pennsylvanian communities since 1982, with the goal of promoting the exchange and integration of Chinese and American cultures. 

For more information, visit caccdelaware.org.