It may be the Year of the Sheep, but the Lunar New Year came roaring into Windsor Terrace like a lion.
A group of youngsters delighted passersby on Feb. 21 with a traditional lion dance, a ritual meant to welcome the new year. A director of a traditional Chinese dance group for youngsters said he chose Windsor Terrace for the celebration specifically because it does not have a large Chinese community.
“It’s one thing to be performing for Asian people who have seen it a million times,” said Brandon Tom, of the Chinatown Community Young Lions. “It’s really special to be able to bring the lion dance to people who have never seen it before.”
Tom’s parents founded the Young Lions in 1972 as a way of connecting American-born kids of Chinese descent to the traditions of their ancestors, and since then the group has expanded beyond Manhattan as far as Orlando, Florida. Tom’s group has additional performances lined up in Manhattan, Queens, and elsewhere in Brooklyn.
The lion dance commemorates a mythical tale in which Chinese villagers built papier mache lions to fend off attacks from a monster.
Elsewhere in Brooklyn, getting in the spirit of this year’s patron animal, the Prospect Park Zoo put the zoo’s sheep on display during a scavenger hunt and lion-dance puppet show. The sheep delighted 2-year-old Jack Nguyen, as did the puppet performance, according to his mom.
“He was definitely excited about seeing the lions dance,” said Karen Tingley, of Windsor Terrace.