Kung hee fat choy celebration

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The Chinese lion leads a sea of fans Friday during The Shops at Kukuiula Chinese New Year celebration.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Sharon Sahara ensures her lai see doesn’t get lost while Cathy Miyake waits her turn Friday during The Shops at Kukuiula Chinese New Year celebration.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A pair of associates from Deja Vu Surf Hawaii at The Shops at Kukuiula offer lai see to the Chinese lion Friday during The Shops’ Chinese New Year celebrations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Lai see greet the Chinese lions Friday during The Shops at Kukuiula Chinese New Year celebrations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Firecrackers waken the pair of Chinese lions into action Friday night during The Shops at Kukuiula Chinese New Year celebrations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Stacie Chiba-Miguel, general manager of The Shops at Kukuiula, prepares the eight strings of firecrackers to launch The Shops at Kukuiula Chinese New Year celebration Friday evening.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Liliana Ki‘ilau shows off her colored Chinese lion from the Kauai Community and Family Education table Saturday during the Kukui Grove Center Chinese New Year celebration.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Salonga warms up with the erhu Saturday during the debut performance of Falling Down Romance at the Kukui Grove Center Chinese New Year celebration.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    My Vem Dang and Cayden Nguyen watch the Chinese lions in their Oriental outfits Saturday at the Kukui Grove Chinese New Year celebrations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Hina Bardago reacts following presenting lai see to the Chinese lion in her Chinese outfit Saturday during the Kukui Grove Center Chinese New Year celebrations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A baby lion greets shoppers Saturday outside the Kauai Ocean Discovery center that opened last week at Kukui Grove Center during the center’s Chinese New Year festivities.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    One of two Chinese lions reacts to the crowd outside the Macy’s store Saturday during the Kukui Grove Center Chinese New Year celebration.

“Eight” is a lucky number, said Stacie Chiba-Miguel, general manager for The Shops at Kukuiula, as she prepared eight strings of firecrackers for ignition at the Palm Court at The Shops at Kukuiula Friday.

The firecrackers heralded the start of the celebration of the Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, that marks the start of another year and another decade. Celebrations took place Friday evening at The Shops at Kukuiula, coinciding with the shopping center’s monthly Flavors of Kukuiula event, and continued Saturday morning at Kukui Grove Center.

The Chinese lions presented by the Tsunami Taiko group under the direction of Joanne Parongao, visited both centers, attracting scores of people anxious to offer the good luck lai see envelopes.

The lions symbolize strength, stability and superiority, and the dances it performs are a way of chasing away evil spirits and welcoming in properous ones.

Coinciding with the monthly Flavors of Kukuiula, the lions visited the length of The Shops at Kukuiula, bringing wishes for good fortune for 2020 to the tenants and shoppers. Participating restaurants in the gathering known as “a family-friendly pau hana party” had a smattering of Chinese New Year food before the Tsunami Taiko ensemble turned over the night to visiting musical group Tflatz.

The crowd continued to surge at Kukui Grove Saturday where the lions arrived to do a special in-store blessing tour inside Macy’s before parading through the mall, ending with a short performance on stage before turning the program over to Falling Down Romance, whose Diane Rubio feaured an erhu, or two-stringed Chinese instrument, being played.

Melissa McFerrin-Warrack said some of the mall’s Chinese food eateries like Ho’s Chinese Kitchen celebrated the day with regional New Years cuisine.

“This is the Year of the Rat,” said Carolyn Lum of Kauai Community and Family Education, who offered a number of color pages that ran out in the face of hundreds of people. “We can help you find your animal of the Chinese zodiac, too,” she said.

Because the rat is the first animal of the Chinese zodiac, people consider this year to be one of new beginnings and success.

The Lunar New Year started Saturday, and continues through Feb. 11, 2021, according to the Chinese horoscope. It should be a strong, prosperous and lucky year for almost all of the Chinese zodiac signs.

Kung hee fat choy!

•••

Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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