Celebrating culture in Sunset Park.
Thousands of people gathered for the neighborhood’s annual Autumn Moon Cultural Festival on Sunday, Sept. 23.
Held along Eighth Avenue between 66th to 49th Streets, several organizations and elected officials showed up to take part in the festivities, which included a lantern parade, dancing, giveaways, food and more.
The Autumn Moon Festival is marked by the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It’s also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. At this time, the moon is at its fullest and brightest, making an ideal time to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest, according to event organizer Better Chinatown USA.
Other organizers included Brooklyn Asian Communities Empowerment (BRACE) and Asian Child Care Resource & Referral Program (ACCR).
“The Autumn Festival is huge cultural holiday for Chinese Americans in particular,” Director of the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) in Brooklyn Community Services Steve Mei told this paper. “I think the environment was very festive. There were a lot of folks, vendors and sponsors involved. I think it’s a great way to support our community and our culture.”
Both Chinese flags and the American flags were given out by Assemblymember Peter Abbate, who also helped sponsor the day’s events. “I think it was a mesh of different cultures and just being appreciative of one another,” Mei added.
“I am so proud to sponsor the Autumn Moon Festival and parade down Eighth Avenue,” Abbate said. “It’s a celebration of the Chinese culture in Sunset Park. This event, which is the largest in Brooklyn, is such an important event for the community as a way to come together and keep the traditions alive.”
“The Autumn Moon Festival is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the rich diversity in our borough, reflected in the heritage of Brooklynites hailing from China, Vietnam, Korean and elsewhere in Asia,” added Councilmember Justin Brannan. “Cultural celebrations are also a great way to bring Brooklyn together and teach each other about the traditions that enhance our lives.”
Mei credited the huge turnout to the celebration’s significance in Sunset Park and within the Chinese-American community.
“I can’t give the exact count, but I was watching with some colleagues and community leaders and there were probably thousands that showed up,” he said. “It’s important. The Sunset Park community is a thriving one and it really is a very robust immigrant community. We have our Latino neighbors, we have our Chinese-American neighbors and it’s awesome. I think it’s a great celebration of culture and heritage. I think there are certain things that you have to hold onto as a piece of where you come from.”
Mei pointed to the lion and dragon dances as highlights of the day.
“It’s a celebration of culture,” he said. “There are certain holidays very important and I think this festival is one of them.”