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The pop-pop of fireworks, the rhythmic beat of a drum and the clash of a cymbal announced the entrance of the lion dancers that were the main attraction at the Feb. 16 Chinese New Year celebration at the Twin Dragon restaurant in Englewood.
“We have held the two-day Chinese New Year celebration every year since we opened the restaurant 41 years ago,” owner Shiou Yan Wang said. “We have a different lion dance group each night because no two groups do the dances the same. The event is very popular. We have people who have been with us almost every year for many years, plus we have people who come to celebration for the first time.”
The lion dancers were from the Denver Shaolin Kung Fu Academy. The three lion dance teams maneuvered their way through the aisles and by the tables, stopping frequently so an adult or child could “feed” the head of the lion a red gift envelop that contained a tip. The red gift envelops are a part of the New Year celebration in most East Asian countries.
There were two red teams and one yellow team of lion dancers performing at the ceremony. One red and one yellow were two-dancer teams, while the other red lion was a solo dancer. The teams were a mixture of adults and young performers.
The teams worked independently or together as they moved around the restaurant. Each team took opportunities to perform tricks like going all the way down to the floor. Each trick earned enthusiastic applause from the audience that filled every table in the restaurant.
Buddy Kelley said he has been coming to the Twin Dragon for about 40 years and has attended the Chinese New Year celebration at Twin Dragon on and off since he was in the fifth grade. On Feb. 16, he brought his young children to experience the celebration for the first time.
His friend Dan Meier and his family joined the Kelley family for the celebration.
“We are expecting very good food and some great entertainment,” Meier said. “The children are very excited to see the dragons dancers perform. It is fun for all of us.”
Diego Jaramillo, 10, waited for one of the dance teams to come to his area so he could “feed” the red gift envelope into the lion's mouth.
“This is really cool,” Jaramillo said. “The dancers are really good. It is fun to watch all they do. It was fun to put the envelope in the lion's mouth. I did it and the lion didn't bite me.”
His mother, Roxanna, said she and her son were part of a party of 10 that came to the celebration.
“We love to come here for this event,” she said. “We have six children in our group and they love it. They look like they are really having a lot of fun. We enjoy the dancers and the food here is always very, very good.”
Marie Suarez, her husband and their 8-year-old son attended the Chinese New Year celebration for the first time.
“We read about the celebration and decided to see what it was like,” Marie said. “I think we are all glad we came because it was so much more than we thought it would be. Our son was fascinated by the lion dancers, particularly when they came close enough to touch. We really enjoyed the evening and we may come back again in a year or two.”
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