Chinese New Year celebrations kick off in Chicago
February 17,2018   By:Xinhua

Feb. 17, 2018 -- More than 300 visitors crowded the Chicago Cultural Center and had a bit taste of traditional Chinese culture as a ceremony was held here Friday to officially kick off the citywide celebrations of Chinese New Year in Chicago.

Traditional Chinese lion dance is the first to take the stage. Two lions, with each performed by two persons under the lion costumes, did various acrobatics, drawing applauses and cheers from time to time.

The Chongqing Chuanju Opera Theatre troupe, scheduled to perform at Chicago Symphony Center Saturday, presented a sneak preview of their upcoming performance, giving audience a taste of the mystical art of mask changing as well as acrobatic feats.

Addressing the ceremony, Chinese Consul General in Chicago Hong Lei numerated the Chinese New Year celebrations that will be held in Chicago in the coming two weeks and expressed his thanks to the City Government of Chicago.

"China and the U.S. are two countries with significant influences in the world, and people-to-people exchanges are the basis for our bilateral relations," Hong said. "(Chicago) Mayor Emanuel has reiterated in many occasions that he is dedicated to make Chicago the most friendly city to China. I believe with joint efforts, cultural exchanges between China and U.S. will be further enhanced and the friendly ties between people of the two countries will be constantly strengthened."

David Whitaker, President of Choose Chicago, reiterated Chicago's commitment to culture diversity, and expressed the hope that more Chinese tourists will come to Chicago to experience the city and the culture.

With China and U.S. being the most important countries in the world, "learning more about each other will help us in the future," he said.

In the coming two-week celebrations, Art Institute of Chicago will co-work with the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Shanghai Museum to open an exhibition named "Mirroring China's Past: Emperors and their Bronzes." A Chinese Arts and Culture Documentary Film Festival will be held at Chicago Culture Center and historic Chinatown in Chicago will hold Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. Chicago Bulls will for the first time present Chinese dragon and lion dances during their home game with Philadelphia 76ers.

Chicago is the first city in the U.S. to launch Chinese New Year celebration in the name of city government, and 2018 will be the fifth year for the city to mark Chinese New Year, which falls on Friday this year.

Chicago has paid much attention to obtain Chinese investment and attract more Chinese tourists. Compared to east and west coastal areas in the country, Chicago has received relatively less Chinese tourists, and there is a huge potential to expand the market.

Thanks to all efforts, total domestic and oversea visitors to Chicago reached 53.91 million in 2016, an increase of 2.5 percent from record 52.59 million in 2015.