Seattle’s AAPI Community Welcomes the Year of the Rat

by Carolyn Bick


The bright clashing of cymbals echoed through the streets surrounding Hing Hay Park, the sounds beckoning some of the many thousands of attendees to follow, as they congregated in Seattle’s Chinatown- International District to celebrate Lunar New Year.

The sounds lured away celebrants from the many food stalls emitting enticing aromas, as the Mak Fai Washington Kung Fu Club Lion Dance Team performed at different area establishments, bringing owners and staffers good luck in the new year.

Lion dancers perform in front of an establishment to bring it good luck in the new year, during the International District’s Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 8, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Restaurant staff and a Mak Fai Washington Kung Fu Club Lion Dance Team leader watch a lion dance, during the International District’s Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 8, 2020 (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Back at Hing Hay Park, various groups took the stage to perform everything from traditional Korean dance to youth martial arts to Japanese taiko drumming. There was a brief performance hiatus for the Northwest Asian Weekly’s annual adult and child costume contest, in which everyone won a prize: varying sizes of stuffed, cheerful-looking cartoon rats, in honor of this year, the Year of the Rat.

A young girl wins a stuffed mouse award in the costume contest, during the International District’s Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 8, 2020 (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
A member of Northwest Wushu performs a martials arts demonstration, during the International District’s Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 8, 2020 (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
People shelter from the rain inside the stage pavilion, during the International District’s Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 8, 2020 (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

But the Chinatown-International District’s celebration wasn’t the only Lunar New Year event in the area. A couple weeks prior, the Wing Luke Museum held its own celebration. On the first floor, attendees were invited to make small lanterns and had the chance to win raffle prizes, while those who ventured to the top floors could hang red tags inscribed with good new year’s wishes.

Arabella Snyder, left, and Allison Snyder, right, make felt rats at the Wing Luke Museum, during the museum’s annual Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
Stuffed animal rats sit on a table at the Wing Luke Museum, during the museum’s annual Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
People make small paper decorations at the Wing Luke Museum, during the museum’s annual Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

In an effort to make the event educational for kids, too, there was also a zodiac “petting zoo,” fluffy stuffed animals of the zodiac strewn about the floor in an area of an exhibition room. In another exhibition, children were challenged to find the rats “hiding” within the different rooms. Many of the small, plastic critters were attached to information photos or plaques, which some of the kids stopped to view or read, after finding the toys.

A dragon dance costume can be seen through the railing at the Wing Luke Museum, during the museum’s annual Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
A person hangs a New Year’s wish on a fake tree at the Wing Luke Museum, during the museum’s annual Lunar New Year celebration in Seattle, Washington, on Jan. 25, 2020. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Earlier, on Jan. 18-19, the Vietnamese community held their Tet festivities at Seattle Center. This year’s Lunar New Year activities continue on for a full month, with upcoming events at which people may learn more about Chinese and Vietnamese cultures, and celebrate the new year with them.