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Flushing welcomes fall with moon fest

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Photo gallery

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Gigi Rodriguez shimmies down the street as part of a presentation by ENJ Production.
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Dancers from the New York Chinese Cultural Center perform at the Queens Botanical Garden during a Moon Festival celebration. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Members of the New York Hung Sing Kwoon Lion Dance Team lead the parade with a dragon. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Dancers from New York Chinese Cultural Center show off their flexibility on stage at Queens Botanical Garden during a Moon Festival celebration. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Shanna Patel jumps as she releases her Barbie kite into the air. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Earl Beckles from Trinidad sports red and black wings as part of a presentation by ENJ Production. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Julie Beckles from Trinidad shimmies down the street as part of a presentation by ENJ Production. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A student of the New York Chinese Cultural Center performs the fan dance. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Dancers from New York Chinese Cultural Center move across the stage at Queens Botanical Garden during a Moon Festival celebration. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Members of the New York Hung Sing Kwoon Lion Dance Team show off their moves in Kissena Park. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Dancers from New York Chinese Cultural Center perform the handkerchief dance at Queens Botanical Garden during a Moon Festival celebration. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Yi Zhou (l.) plays the pipa and Liquan Li accompanies her on Yangqin. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Dancers from New York Chinese Cultural Center perform the handkerchief dance at Queens Botanical Garden during a Moon Festival celebration. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A member of the New York Hung Sing Kwoon Lion Dance Team is visible inside the face of a lion. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Harry Cao, 4, accepts a small duck figurine. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Dominican diablo kajuelo dancers from the group Adicoony bring a douse of color to the parade. Photo by Christina Santucci
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Members of the New York Hung Sing Kwoon Lion Dance Team lead the parade with a dragon. Photo by Christina Santucci

Flushing’s Asian community came together to welcome autumn with the annual Moon Festival at the Queens Botanical Garden Sunday.

One of the biggest holidays in Chinese culture, several organizations joined to celebrate with concerts, a parade and fireworks while family and friends commemorated the occasion with a big meal and storytelling.

“This is an important holiday for the Asian people because it brings families together, no matter where they are,” said City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing). “And the festival is meaningful for all cultures, not just Asian, because it is about family. It is about coming together and being full, like the moon.”

Enjoying the full moon with the family is a Chinese tradition dating back about 1,500 years and often compared to the western holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas because of the family spirit involved. The most famous food associated with the festival is the moon cake.

Moon cakes are flaky, round, semi-sweet pastries often filled with bean or lotus-seed paste and topped with a duck egg, echoing the shape of the full moon.

While no moon cakes were on hand at the garden, there were plenty of attractions to entertain the attendees. Along with arts and crafts for children, the New York Chinese Cultural Center also presented classic and folk dances, displaying athletic skill and a flair for the dramatic.

Cathy Hung, executive director of the NYCCC, said the center looks to provide entertainment while also educating the public on Chinese heritage.

“This is a great opportunity to bring our programs to the community,” she said. “There are many generations of Chinese here in Flushing, and we encourage parents to teach their children and help keep our traditions alive — and today we get to do that in a beautiful setting.”

That setting is kept gorgeous under the watch of Susan Lacerte, executive director of the Queens Botanical Garden.

Lacerte said the lively event is a bit of a departure for the garden, but a welcome change.

“The garden has many different uses — it can be contemplative, a place to retreat, a place to be inspired by beauty and awed by nature, but it can also be a space for traditional performances,” she said. “We like to think of ourselves as the place where people, plants and culture come together. And there is no better example of that than this Moon Festival.”

And it was not just the Asian population that joined in the celebration, as residents from across Queens came to enjoy the cultural exposure.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said the diversity in the garden is a testament to the many different cultures that grow in Queens.

“Flushing really is the crossroads of the world,” she said. “We give thanks for nature’s bounty and for cultural diversity.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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