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The Villages
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Villages Asian American Club celebrates Year of the Dragon

Club President Robert Trask
Club President Robert Trask

A huge highlight of The Villages Asian American Club Lunar New Year extravaganza was a visit by a bright, hyper-active, electric dragon, which undulated around the Savannah Theater last week to entertain the capacity crowd of over 360 guests.

Club president, Bob Trask, of the Village of Caroline, was elated at the turnout. He and membership director, Morrie Mudrick, both had people knocking on their doors at home wanting to buy last minute tickets – but since the room was filled to capacity, they unfortunately had to be turned away until next year.

In China and many Asian countries, Feb. 10-24, 2024, marks the transition from the year of the rabbit to the year of the dragon, which symbolizes strength, good fortune and prosperity. Officially sanctioned holidays last seven days, and some family or community celebrations can last as long as two weeks. Babies born under this sign are considered to be blessed with intelligence, ambition and charisma. 

There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, which rotate each year, starting with the year of the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.  Most recently, Years of the Dragon, which occur  every 12 years,  included 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, and of course 2024.

Lunar New Year Featured Image
The procession was an eye-catching event.

Born in the 1940, a Year of the Dragon, La Paloma Villa resident, June Bennett, had a great time. “This was one of the best Villages parties I’ve ever been to,” she said. “The energy was palpable, and the food was fantastic. They thought of everything!”  Well almost everything. In Asia, there are many large firework displays, which aren’t permitted here.

Program planners, LiJun Brown, Julia Johansson and Lisha Dong, plus a large number of club functionaries and volunteers, received loud applause. After the scrumptious buffet dinner, catered by Ichiban of Leesburg, The Villages Korean-American Club Drummers welcomed the dragon, plus two large costumed lions, followed by a procession of all the stage performers — many of whom came from Tampa for the occasion.

The Tampa Sunshine Dance Group
The Tampa Sunshine Dance Group

The Villages Natural Health Group master, Bob Martin, foisted the dragon’s head, and other members of that group  supported the dragon’s body and tail. There were colorful group and solo dances with picturesque backdrops; beautiful music and songs, and the current Miss Universe, from Vietnam, mingled with the guests.

Bright embossed red and gold envelopes were placed on every table, into which guests could put money. In Asia, holiday money envelopes are mostly given to young children. This week, Villager’s donations were passed along to the Wildwood food pantry.

The Club’s goal ‘Building Bridges Across Cultures’ was certainly met at this celebration. Guests from China, South Korea, the Philippines, Tibet, and other Far East countries, attended.

For those interested in attending the club’s Asian Spring Festival (Feb. 22) and/or the Korean Festival (March 28), e-mail Bob Trask: btrask08@aol.com.

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