Here, there be dragons.
The firebreathers — or at least their elaborate cloth doppelgangers — soared overhead at Orlando Fashion Square Sunday as part of the 4th Annual Central Florida Lunar New Year Festival.
The parade and festival celebrate the Lunar New Year, one of the biggest holidays in several Asian countries. The year 2015 is the Year of the Goat, Sheep, or Ram, whichever animal you’d prefer.
This was the first year the parade was held as Fashion Square.
“This is the first time we are here,” said Susie Tran, of Casselberry, of the parade’s Fashion Square location. “It’s a beautiful day, and I think we have a real good turnout.”
Tran was with the Hon Viet dance group, which performs traditional Vietnamese dances.
Karen Whitt, of Orlando, marched with the Chinese Association of Central Florida Dance Troupe.
“We are overwhelmed with the turnout,” Whitt said. “For Chinese and Asian culture to grow like this in Central Florida, it means a lot to us.”
Also on hand was Philip T.Y. Wang, director general of the Taipei (Taiwan) Economic and Cultural Office in Miami.
“It’s very important for people to understand how many Asian people are (in Florida), how many people from Taiwan, China — everyplace,” Wang said. “They’ve contributed to the construction of the Central Florida area, and they’re an integral part of what we’ve so far achieved.”
Wang also said he’s using the celebration as an encouragement for Taiwanese to visit the Orlando area. Taiwanese can take advantage of a visa waiver program to visit the U.S. for 90 days without a visa.
Sponsors included Asia Trend Magazine, Mills 50 Orlando Main Street District, R.E.A.C.H. (Recognizing Educating Asian Cultural Heritage) and Y.E.S.S. (Youth Enrichment and Senior Services).
Following the parade, a Lion Dance opening ceremony was scheduled, kicking off five hours of festivities that included cultural and musical performances, fashion displays, arts and crafts and exotic foods.
Copyright © 2015, Orlando Sentinel