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Downtown Akron Welcomes the Year of the Rabbit at the Second Annual Lunar New Year Celebration


Category: Downtown Akron Blog

Photo: Ashton Blake/Blaak Media

To say this year’s Downtown Akron Lunar New Year Celebration was spectacular would be an understatement. The event, which was only in its second iteration, was humbling, heartening, and absolutely extraordinary by every measure. 

You may remember last year’s event—the inaugural Lunar New Year celebration that took place in the Lock 3 Commons. It was warmly received by the thousand people in attendance and was an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with several neighborhood partners. The event featured traditional performances and fireworks over Lock 3. 

This year, attendance doubled. The house filled to capacity with two thousand onlookers who were there to see the outstanding performances on the main stage of the Akron Civic Theatre. In fact, attendance was so much higher than expected that the Civic actually had to open the house doors half an hour earlier than planned to accommodate the people packing into the building, ready to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with food and drink, a show, giveaways, and fireworks.

Photo: Ashton Blake/Blaak Media

Beginning at 4:30, people began streaming through the front door of the Civic to explore the various tables set up around the lobby, which included information booths, Lunar New Year crafts and activities, community resources, and food vendors. Cilantro Thai & Sushi, Evelyn’s Coffee & Banh Mi, and Boiling House—all downtown Akron restaurants—sold small bites such as crab rangoon and kimbap. Local high school student Jenny Wei, who designed this year’s event graphic, was at a table signing posters.

At five, the house doors opened, and people filed in, eager to claim their seats for the six o’clock performance. And what a performance it was! Several groups of professionals dazzled the audience with their movements. These included Kwan Family Lion Dance, Master Sen Gao, Master Maochang Zhang & Wutan Martial Art Center, Glory Drum Team of Cleveland, and the Stellar Acrobatic Dance Academy.

Photo: Ashton Blake/Blaak Media

In addition to the professional groups, 49 students from the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM Middle School participated in acts that included the Dragon Dance, the Umbrella Dance, Taiji, and a Chinese Fashion Show, under the leadership of their teacher, Coach Qing Liang. A group of first graders from the Akron Chinese School also participated, and a group of Ka’Ren students from Akron’s North Hill community performed the traditional Bamboo Dance. 

Following the performances, which garnered wild applause, 20 STEM students manned the dragon costumes and led the audience outside and onto the Main Street sidewalk and Lock 3 terrace, where fireworks rained over the crowd to a backdrop of Chinese music. It was a truly moving experience to witness people from all walks of life—of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and backgrounds—coming together during a time often felt to be deeply divided. We think it says a lot about Akron’s potential to build and support a strong, inclusive community.

Photo: Ashton Blake/Blaak Media

The 2023 Downtown Akron Lunar New Year Celebration was presented by Downtown Akron Partnership with support from the Knight Foundation, the City of Akron, Asian Services in Action, the Ka'Ren Community of Akron, The University of Akron, NIHF STEM School, Civic Youth Innovation Engagement, Akron Community Foundation, GAR Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Akron Civic Commons, Akron METRO RTA, Akron Children's Museum, Akron Children's Hospital, and the Akron Civic Theatre.

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