Year of the Dragon: WUSTL students to usher in Lunar New Year with fireworks

Edison Theatre performances benefit tsunami victims

Student groups at Washington University in St. Louis are preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year — beginning with a fireworks show Sunday, Jan. 22, and concluding with a two-night, high-spirited performance in Edison Theatre, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28.

The annual Lunar New Year Festival is a student-run production that celebrates one of the most important holidays in Asian culture. This year, performances will take place in Edison Theatre at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27 and 28. (Credit: Jerry Naunheim Jr.)

Observed on Monday, Jan. 23, this year, the Lunar New Year is one of the most important traditional Asian holidays.

Two WUSTL student groups, the Asian Multicultural Council and the Lunar New Year Festival (LNYF), organize the campus celebrations, with the hope of making Asian culture accessible to as many people as possible.

Festivities get under way with the second annual Lunar New Year fireworks show at 9:10 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, on Mudd Field on the Danforth Campus. The show is free and open to the public.

The annual Lunar New Year Festival, set for the following weekend, is a student-run production that culminates from months of hard work. Student performances span the traditional to the modern — from the elaborate ribbon and lion dances, to the graceful Korean fan dance, to the rhythms of hip hop and fusion.

2012 is the Year of the Dragon, the most powerful of the Zodiac animals. In honor of the grand and legendary creature, this year’s theme, “To Be a Dragon,” highlights a traditional Chinese saying (wang zi cheng long), the idea that all parents want their children to grow up to be dragons. Dragons are considered dominant, ambitious, successful and bringers of good fortune.

“We hope to touch upon the various interpretations of what it means to grow up a ‘dragon’ and the successes and failures that come along the journey to becoming one,” says Rina Matsumoto, LNYF co-executive director.

Helping tsunami victims

Each year, LNYF initiates a philanthropy partnership in conjunction with the event. Proceeds from this year’s performances will benefit Youth for 3.11.

This Japanese nonprofit volunteer organization supports the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern region of Japan March 11, 2011. Specifically, the organization was founded and is run by college students and brings together other college students to participate in various volunteer projects.

The shows are at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28. Tickets are $10 per night and are available through the Edison Theatre box office beginning Jan. 17.

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