In the Chinese zodiac, 2020 is the Year of the Rat.
That's not a bad thing, according to Mary Barton, president of the Long Beach-Qingdao Association (LBQA), and her group plans to prove it with an extravagant Lunar New Year celebration Saturday, Feb. 22.
The sister city group has been hosting a Chinese New Year party for a number of years, most recently in partnership with the Long Beach City College culinary program. Lion dancers, traditional Chinese music and cuisine has drawn crowds.
But — “In honor of our 35th anniversary as a sister city, we’ve ramped up everything about our annual New Year party,” Barton said. “To mark the occasion, we’ve raised the bar on our party. With the help of master showman David Wilcox, artistic director of Long Beach Ballet, we’ve added some extra production values worthy of a 35th anniversary show!”
To start, LBQA has reached out to a rising star in the world of magic, Rabby Yang, a young performer at the Magic Castle who recently fooled Penn & Teller on their popular TV show. Yang is originally from Beijing, and used magic to ease his transition to the United States.
Wilcox will bring dancers from his Long Beach Ballet troupe — he takes some of the dancers to Guangzhou, China, every year for a joint performance. And Ling's Academy students will demonstrate traditional Chinese dance. Long Beach's own International Children's Choir will sing as well.
There will be crafts along with the entertainment, with the Kids' Korner focusing on art, Legos and creation of a Chinese New Year-themed fabric. Brickersville founder Trish Tsoiasue and illustrator Eddie Young will be there to assist.
Adults will have the chance to take home a customized Chinese calligraphy painting suitable for framing created by calligrapher Jinan Tsai. And genuine Chinese red envelopes marking the Year of the Rat will be plentiful.
Tickets, $40 for adults and $20 for children (tables of eight for $350) are available at www.lbqa.org. The party will be in the Nordic Lounge on the liberal arts campus of Long Beach City College (4901 E. Carson Ave., Building E).
The Long Beach-Qingdao Association is an affiliate of Sister Cities International in Washington, D.C., and is one of five sister cities of Long Beach. For more information, visit www.sistercitiesoflongbeach.org.