Hundreds turned out to welcome in the Lunar New Year at a large celebration Saturday at Herricks High School, where retiring superintendent John Bierwirth and principal Jane Modoono were given special honors.
The event, which drew many families, students and senior citizens, included professional and student performances, including Chinese Yo-Yo, Lion Dance and face changing. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos also made an appearance.
“I think a really spectacular act was high school Chinese yo-yo,” said Larry Cheung, a Herricks senior and president of the high school’s Asian-American Culture Club. “I saw [sophomore Nelson Wu] pull off some crazy tricks that just had everyone’s jaws drop, and it was pretty out of this world.”
The Lunar New Year signifies the first day of the year on the Chinese calendar and is a major holiday in China. Each year has a representative zodiac symbol, with this year’s being the sheep or goat.
“In Chinese culture the Lunar New Year is a huge celebration,” Cheung said.
Bierwirth received a plaque in recognition of his support of the celebration, which began 14 years ago at a Herricks elementary school, said Denise Lam, a parent organizer of the event who has two children at the high school.
“They’re a great group of people, and I’ve really enjoyed what they’ve done in terms of building this celebration up. It’s a great community event,” Bierwirth said in a phone interview. “I’ve loved it each year. It’s great seeing all the kids, both the students who are performing and also the families.”
The event is sponsored by the Chinese-American Association of North Hempstead and hosted by the Asian-American Culture Club. This is the fourth year it has been held in the high school gymnasium, Lam said.
She added Herricks has a rapidly growing and active Asian population.
“I’ve been in the area for 15 years,” Lam said. “When [my son] first went to Denton school, he was the only Chinese boy, but now he has lots of Chinese friends.”
Both Lam and Cheung said the diversity of the crowd made Saturday’s celebration all the more special.
“At the event we had people from all different cultures, and it was really a cultural experience for everyone,” Cheung said. “The thing I think that makes it really special is sharing our culture – our school is very diverse.”
Lam said the diverse age range of the attendees was also special
“Three generations show up,” Lam said. “That’s why I like it a lot.”