New Yorkers including the leading federal, state and local elected came out in droves to celebrate the Lunar New Year and welcome the Year of the Rabbit, and show support for Manhattan’s Chinatown, home of one of the largest Chinese American communities in the nation.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (who even sang a few bars from “New York, New York”), New York City Mayor Eric Adams, NY District Attorney Alvin Bragg and FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh joined in the 25th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade through Chinatown.
Parade goers delighted in seeing the dragons (the dragon is a symbol of longevity and prosperity) and lion dances, colorful traditional costumes, bursts of confetti, and other rituals and symbols.
New York’s Asian American community welcomed the Year of the Tiger with its traditional Lunar New Year parade, but with some important differences: glee after a COVID hiatus and a measure of assertiveness to counter the uptick in hate crimes these past two years. There was more political messaging – pushing back against a city plan to locate a jail in the community and standing firm against hate crimes directed at the community. It is also an opportunity for politicians to show support for the community, which numbers 1.6 million in New York City.
“When I see this crowd, it says to me one thing, that New York is as strong as the tiger,” Governor Kathy Hochul said in her remarks to start the parade. “We are tough, courageous, resilient, and we always fight back. That’s what this parade symbolizes. We were here just before the pandemic and yes, it took us down and it was very difficult for many of our communities, our businesses.
“I walked these streets, and this was a ghost town for too long. We came here with Steven and others, but we are back. And I also want to say that the State of New York, my administration, is committed to one program I believe is going to make a huge difference here. We’re putting $10 million toward helping mental health and social services for this community to help people rise up, rise up and deal with all the challenges.
“We will continue to fight back against every form of hate as it rears its ugly head. We have your backs, and we stand with the Asian community, 1.6 million strong here in the State of New York.
“We are so powerful. Let us roar like the tiger as we continue to fight our way back, claw our way back, because we are New York! Happy New Year!”
The $10 million in awards will go to community-based organizations providing services to Asian American communities that were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding, allocated in the FY 2021-22 budget, will be distributed through the Asian American Federation (AAF), the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), and the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), as well as other organizations. There will be a focus on community programs and providers that bring services and supportive programs directly to New York’s Asian American communities. This will be the largest investment in the Asian American community in New York State history.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on so many vulnerable and marginalized communities across New York State,” Governor Hochul said.”The Asian American community was especially hard hit, not only by the virus, but by an increase in hate and violent crimes. With this $10 million in funding, we are sending a strong message that hate has no home here, and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our sisters and brothers in the Asian American community. My administration is laser focused on continuing to help communities that have for too long been forgotten, not only as we recover from this pandemic, but for years to come.”
President & CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council Wayne Ho said,”We would like to thank the Governor’s Office and State legislators for critical funding to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The increase in anti-Asian violence and hate combined with the economic devastation of the pandemic have left our community in crisis. In the past year, CPC has served over 125,000 New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds through our essential services, financial assistance, and pandemic relief efforts. CPC looks forward to receiving this funding from the State to continue addressing our community members’ health, economic, and safety needs.”
Executive Director of the Asian American Federation Jo-Ann Yoo said,”We thank Governor Hochul for her investment and commitment in providing the resources that New York’s Asian American community needs now more than ever. With the tragedies that our community has experienced since the start of the pandemic, and painfully so over the last few months, many Asian Americans are fearful for their own lives when stepping out of their homes. Governor Hochul’s leadership shows that our voice is not going unheard as we ask for support to overcome this trauma. Today’s announcement is the start of much work to be done, and we look forward to working with the Governor and State and City elected officials to ensure that New York’s Asian American community is protected and given the resources to preserve past this crisis.”
At least two of the floats carried banners with Governor Hochul photo, with a giant “thank you.”
Hochul was joined on the podium by a number of politicians, including US Senator Chuck Schumer, NYC Mayor Eric Adams, State Senator Brian Kavanaugh and NYC Comptroller Brad Lander,
The parade and festivities returned after last year’s coronavirus hiatus, and so were the crowds to enjoy the display of culture and pride by the Asian American community. Here are photo highlights from the parade through New York City’s Chinatown: