Plymothian Gong Xi

2007 was the dullest CNY I ever had – no gatherings, no potlucks, no dine-ins, no photo shoots, no memories. I only got my mandarin oranges, some CNY tong-tong-chang mp3 songs, an IDD call card to call home, ‘xin nian kuai le’ wishes from Chinese friends when clock strikes 12 midnight, and a complementary angpow (red packets) worth £20 from boss to cure my CNY homesickness.
And yet, for the first time in Plymouth, the Chinese community was allowed to organise an open-air celebration in the city centre, thanks to the Devon & Cornwall Chinese Association.

They even made headlines in the local TV and news;

Thousands packed Plymouth Guildhall to enjoy the city’s first public Chinese New Year celebrations – watching everything from the energetic Lion Dance to peaceful tai chi. Drummers and dancers parading down Armada Way led the crowds into the venue where organisers were overwhelmed by the numbers yesterday.

Some visitors had to be turned away and were asked to come back later to help welcome in the Year of the Pig.

The Guildhall was decked in the lucky Chinese colour red as the backdrop for a spectacular day of entertainment including demonstrations of Shaolin Kung Fu and fan-dancing.

Stalls and workshops sold a huge range of Chinese food and there was also fortune-telling, arts and crafts and professional advice on Chinese hair and beauty.

The hall was quickly crammed with visitors edging their way towards the stage or the stalls.

The event started with a Lion Dance of two men in traditional costume leading drummers from the Sundial to the Guildhall. About 800 people stopped in the cold to watch in crowds three to four deep.

Chief officer of Devon and Cornwall Chinese Association, Shei Ling Wong said: “It is lovely to see so many people here and such a variety of people. This is our first-ever open event.”

She told the crowds that the organisation wanted to share the ‘wonders’ of the Chinese culture and she hoped the event would close the gap between different communities.

The association, representing the biggest ethnic minority in the South West, established the Guildhall’s Chinese New Year event in 1975.

Shei Ling said: “There is just not enough space to move around. Our only concern is that people may be disappointed that they have been turned away.”

Lord Mayor of Plymouth Cllr Michael Fletcher told visitors: “It is a very good sign that Plymouth is becoming a much more vibrant multicultural society when we celebrate this kind of event with our Chinese friends. The response from the city shows that this kind of event should have been happening a long time ago.” – Evening Herald

And yet, I WASN’T THERE TO WITNESS EVERYTHING!!! [ Bangs head on the wall… ]