This year, Annual Lunar New Year Festival and Gala in Chicago commenced February 6, at Hyatt Regency, hosted by The Asian American Coalition of Chicago. The beginning of the Year of the Monkey was celebrated by more than a thousand attendees, from among the community activists, officials, corporate representatives and sponsors, and other guests. The festivities started off with a VIP black-tie reception where guests mingled and toasted the achievements, and the hopes for the coming year. Among the dignitaries and government officials in attendance there was Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and Senator Dick Durbin, who was presented the Grand Asian American Sandra Otaka Memorial Award for support and advocacy for the immigrant communities. The most prestigious Pan Asian American Ping Tom Memorial Award went to Ms. Tuyet Le, Executive Director of the Asian American Advancing Justice of Chicago.
The celebration continued, and guests moved to the dinner hall, while enjoying a variety of performances: Youth Lions, Korean Drummers, Chinese, Indonesian, Filipino performers and Shaolin Temple Martial Artists. 2014 Miss Illinois and opera singer Marisa Buchheit sang the National Anthem and “God Bless America”, and 2016 Chicago Chinatown Miss Friendship Ambassador Kelly Yee Uchima sang “I Dreamed a Dream.” The Award ceremony continued over the dinner. ABC-7 Chicago Linda Yu and Cary Chow of ESPN served as emcees for the evening. President and CEO Karen Eng of CSMI is serving as this year’s chairman, and the Chinese American community is hosting the gala this year.
The organizers note, that Asian American Coalition of Chicago (AACC) was founded in 1983, and is represented by over 16 cultures including the Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thai, and Vietnamese American communities.
S Telis, L Mogul for Kontinent Media, with photography by Larisa Pevtsova and by AACC