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Chinese New Year celebration draws in diverse crowd

Chinese New Year celebration draws in diverse crowd

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A house on the outskirts of Lincoln is an unlikely hotspot for a style of Japanese drumming called Taiko. 

"Neighbors will ask 'what are you doing,' because it's so loud," said  Maureen Brase-Houchin, who learned the choreographed technique in the 1990s in Japan and now teaches it from her Lincoln home.

Brase-Houchin and her group Kokyo Taiko shared their deafening rhythm on drums of hardwood and rawhide as part of the Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday at Auld Pavilion.

The celebration, which marked the beginning of the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese lunar calendar, drew people from diverse backgrounds.

According to Rebecca Reinhardt, the cultural program coordinator at the Asian Community and Cultural Center, at least nine nationalities were represented. 

"It's a big festival for Asian countries," Reinhardt said. "But this event is not only for people from Asian countries; we also want to provide it to the community."

Nine performances were scheduled, including two traditional lion dances and two cultural fashion pageants. 

Children were also greeted with red envelopes containing money -- a staple of every Chinese New Year's celebration.

Restaurants, including Suji's Korean Grill in Omaha, provided a variety of ethnic foods -- dishes from India, Korea, China and Vietnam.

According to organizer Veronica Zhang, preparation for the event starts in early December. This is the first year the event was held at Auld Pavilion in Antelope Park. In past years, Sheldon Art Gallery hosted the celebration.

Zhang said the event caters to Lincoln's large immigrant population.

"Lincoln is becoming increasingly diverse," Zhang said, "and people are inevitably exposed to different cultures, so this event contributes to the harmony of the community."

For Brase-Houchin, who has performed at the New Year's celebration for many years, Taiko drumming maintains a connection to her Japanese heritage.

"We keeps close contact to our group in Japan," Brase-Houchin said. "They feel such a connection that I could carry that art to America and start a group ..."

The New Year's celebration provides an opportunity for other groups to maintain similar connections.

"It brings so many cultures together," Brase-Houchin said, "and it gives those cultures an opportunity to share with the greater community."


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