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In photos: House of China Lunar New Year celebration

For many Asian cultures, the Lunar New Year is a time of auspicious celebration. It’s during this time when many welcome the arrival of spring by organizing family gatherings, parades and fireworks. And for those who follow the Chinese zodiac, Sunday signaled the end of the Year of the Tiger to usher in the Year of the Rabbit.

North San Diego String Ensemble
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
The North San Diego String Ensemble playing before a large crowd for the Lunar New Year celebration in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023.

This weekend in Balboa Park, the House of China in San Diego celebrated the Lunar New Year (or the Spring Festival) with joyous pomp and circumstance — decked out in gold and red symbolizing prosperity and good fortune.

Lunar New Year crowd
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
Visitors sit and watch the North San Diego String Ensemble during the Lunar New Year festival in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023.

The North San Diego String Ensemble performed various celebratory songs that represented the coming of the new year — songs of renewal, of spring and of hope.

North San Diego String Ensemble
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
A young musician from the North San Diego String Ensemble plays for Lunar New Year festival attendees in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023.

The event, which ran Saturday and Sunday, was filled with smiling attendees who will continue to celebrate for the next 15 days until the Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the Lunar New Year, on Feb. 5.

Balboa Park A
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
From left to right: Daniel, Michelle, Lex, Kim and Ashley are a group of attendees enjoying the Lunar New Year festivities on Jan. 22, 2023.

This is the second year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that attendees have gathered in the same space to celebrate. For many, it was a sigh of relief to be able to come together and reconnect with loved ones.

Chinese lion marionette
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
A Chinese lion marionette watches visitors pass by its booth during Lunar New Year celebrations in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023.

San Diego City Councilmember Kent Lee and his family attended the event. Lee voiced how wonderful it was to participate and be surrounded by community members from all over the county.

Kent Lee
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
San Diego City Councilmember Kent Lee was spotted in Balboa Park for the Lunar New Year festival with his wife, Phuong, and their two children: Oliver (left) and Alynna (right) on Jan. 22, 2023.

"We wish everyone good health and prosperity and fortune, especially after the pandemic," Lee said.

Lunar New Year crowd
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
A crowd of patrons look over a menagerie of charms and toys during the Lunar New Year festival in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023.

Chris Chan, director of city council communications, was also thrilled to see the high turnout.

Chris Chan, Balboa Park
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
Chris Chan, director of city council communications poses in front of a House of China banner in Balboa Park during the Lunar New Year festival on Jan. 22, 2023.

"It's wonderful to see the community come out," he said. "The Asian community was worried about COVID ... but I'm relieved to see that we were able to celebrate all together."

Younger attendees beamed with enthusiasm and showed their love for the holiday by dressing in red. Natalie, a San Diego State University student, said "it's fun" and exciting to come back to some semblance of normal in-person events.

Lunar New Year SD Students
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
From the left: San Diego State University students William, Samantha, Natalie and Kendyl enjoy the Lunar New Year in Balboa Park, Jan. 22, 2023.

Some attendees were still cautious around crowds, but that didn't deter them from marching through just to catch a whiff of braised pork or a sweet taste of boba tea.

Edited Photo, Lunar.jpg
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
A crowd of visitors flock the food stands in Balboa Park during the Lunar New Year festival on Jan. 22, 2023.

One of the highlights from the event was in the House of China, where volunteers wrote names of arriving visitors in Chinese using traditional calligraphy brushes.

IMG_0694.jpg
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
A visitor enters the House of China during the Lunar New Year festival on Jan. 22, 2023.

Inside, past a menagerie of porcelain dolls and antiques, were two volunteers asking visitors for their name before writing it in elegant ink script.

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Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
Volunteers Mary (left) and Wei-Wei (right) write down names of the event attendees in Chinese in the House of China in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023
Lunar New Year Attendees
Leslie Gonzalez
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KPBS
Lunar New Year attendees look over a Chinese zodiac chart in Balboa Park on Jan. 22, 2023.

As the event came to a close, firecrackers crackled and children laughed. And as visitors began to leave, toddlers gathered around the stage to celebrate the new year and welcome the Year of the Rabbit with a single bunny hop. The final message from event organizers was to stay healthy, to stay happy, and to have a prosperous new year.

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