Mid-Autumn Festival celebration brings joy to Chicago Chinatown

2021-09-18 Xinhua Editor:Xue Lingqiao

Thousands of people gathered at Chinatown Square in Chicago, the third largest city in the United States, on Friday to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, with mooncakes and performances.

A 10-foot (about 3.3 meters) pyramid of mooncakes, piled up in mooncake containers, stands high in the middle of the square.

"We have 550 mooncakes in there," said Chris Huang, president of the Asian American Cultural Center (AACC), a key organizer of the celebration.

"We'll give away all of them to senior audience here today," Huang said.

Huang told Xinhua that the AACC has organized the Moon Festival celebration for the past 20 years, and normally, the event was held every other year, with something different each time.

In the last celebration in 2019, a gigantic mooncake, 9 feet (around 3 meters) in diameter, was set up in the middle of the square. By the end of the celebration, the mooncake was cut into small pieces and shared among the audience.

"It's great to see the crowd here today," Huang said. "Even though people are wearing masks, I can see the joy in their eyes."

The last celebration drew 35,000 people. Despite the pandemic, he expects today's five-hour event will have nearly as many people to attend, as people come and go until 8 p.m. when the celebration ends.

Parveen Mangru, a 37-year-old visitor from New York City, was excited to be present at the celebration. "I'm so happy I happen to visit Chinatown today," she told Xinhua. "I love to see the community together and learn about the Moon Festival."

Mangru said she had visited the Chinatown in New York City and San Francisco before but found Chicago's Chinatown more appealing and welcoming.

"People are so friendly here," she said.

Doug Nebel, a 59-year-old Chicagoan, came to attend the celebration when he heard of it.

"I always like Asian culture," said Nebel. "This is such a wonderful event to experience the rich tradition and culture."

The Moon Festival is one of the most important traditional Chinese festivals. This celebration will not only bring the tradition to the younger generation of Chinese in the United States, but also introduce the Chinese culture and tradition to people from other ethnic backgrounds, Huang said.

Besides mooncakes, the celebration also included dragon dance, fan dance, aerobic dance, singing, lantern riddles and prizes.

Several other Moon Festival celebrations will take place in the Chicago area on Saturday, including a celebration at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago featuring music, storytelling, seed-planting, lantern-making, and mooncakes; and one at the Burnham Park at the lakefront organized by the Chicago City Park District with storytelling, Chinese folk dance performance, lantern making, and lantern parade.

In Aurora in western suburbs of Chicago, a five-hour celebration will take place on Saturday as well.

"In addition to Chinese cultural performance, we'll feature hip hop music and performance to attract the younger generation of Asian Americans," said Jan Zheng, president of Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago, a key organizer of the event. 

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