Before reaching the decision, Senior Center leaders reached out to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community, many of whom are members of the center, Executive Director Akila Gibbs said.
“We have a lot of people who belong to the API community that are members at the Senior Center. We have a great relationship with the community and we asked them how they felt. We thought about it for a long time and tried to figure out if it was something we should move forward with. Based on their response we decided that it would be a good idea to go ahead with it.”
“We decided to honor the people who died at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and the people that were affected by their death, but also to celebrate the year of the rabbit,” Gibbs said.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, longtime regulars gathered at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio to ring in the Lunar New Year, when a gunman opened fire at the dance studio in Monterey Park.
Eleven people were killed and nine others were injured, making it one of the deadliest shootings in the state’s modern history, authorities have said.
Gibbs added that the Senior Center plans to preventative steps to make people feel comfortable.
“We are going to supply our own security. Just to make sure that people feel comfortable and safe and they can just enjoy the celebration without worry.”
On Feb 2, the senior center will celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with the traditional Lion Dance and a martial arts demonstration.
As the event falls on a Cultural Thursday, the Senior Center decided to showcase a traditional celebration, where the community can learn about a different culture and customs.
“We try to look for different cultural events throughout the year that represent a variety of customs and cultures. So I think they’ll learn a little bit more about the Lunar New Year and how people celebrate that,” Gibbs said.
The Lion Dance and the martial arts show will be overseen by Master Ken Hui of the Northern Shaolim Kung Fu Association.
Gibbs said there will be other traditional displays of Chinese customs during the event, which is open to everyone.
“People love the lion dance,” she said. “Sometimes the dance goes all the way through the senior center and people follow them around. It always gets a rousing applause and a lot of attention. We’re also having a martial arts demonstration and a lot of red envelopes and coins and things that represent a Happy New Year.”
Gibbs herself was born in the Year of the Rabbit and she considers the rabbit as one of the luckiest symbols in the Chinese zodiac.
“This is my second year celebrating being a rabbit at the Senior Center,” she said. “I’ve been there for 15 years so it’s my turn again to celebrate my horoscope.”
The Lunar New Year officially begins on Sunday, Jan. 22. The date of the Lunar New Year in the Gregorian calendar changes from year to year but always falls in January or February.
Welcoming the Lunar New Year is celebrating the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the “lunisolar” (lunar and solar) calendar. It is the most important holiday in China, and it is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Mongolia, and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population, including the United States.
Since COVID-19 disrupted most events at the Pasadena Senior Center, Gibbs is glad they’re back in person this time on a more traditional schedule.
Registration is encouraged for the Chinese New Year event on Feb. 2. To register, visit www.pasadenaseniorcenter.org/activities-events/special-events/793-cultural-thursday-lunar-new-year-celebration and click on the Register Online button.
For more information, call (626) 795-4331.