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Annual Autumn Moon Lantern Parade Festival brings crowds and ceremony to Sunset

SUNSET PARK — It was another massive turnout for Sunset Park’s Autumn Moon Lantern Parade Festival.

Organized by groups including Better Chinatown USA and the Asian American Cultural Exchange Council, the event, which is in its 17th year, was held on Sunday, Sept. 15 on Eighth Avenue between 63rd Street and 49th Street.

“The whole day went really well,” said Executive Director of Better Chinatown USA Steven Tin. “It was pretty hot and still felt like summertime. We got a very nice turnout and people got to see great performers, sports car, and all kinds of festival activities.”

The classic activities continue to be the highlight of the day, according to Tin, who stressed that the festival, which is second only to celebrations of the Lunar New Year in importance, “celebrates the love of family and togetherness. It’s like Thanksgiving. People get together. It’s also a romantic holiday for couples.”

Among the highlights were the traditional attractions. “The dragon, the lions, the kids dancing hip hop and jazz, a lot of cultural dances were the most popular,” he said, noting that the 20 “exotic sports cars” on view also attracted attention — especially from attendees who wanted to pose with them for photos.

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Those who attended had a great time, according to Tin.

“Most of the families that were lining up were really happy,” he said. “We gave out a lot of American and Chinese flags because this year is the 40th anniversary of when the China-U.S. relationship was established.”

Assemblymember Peter Abbate, who provided the flags and who was a co-sponsor, along with State Sen. Andrew Gournardes and Councilmember Justin Brannan, also emphasized the importance of the occasion.

“By continuing these important cultural celebrations,” he told this paper, “we ensure that future generations embrace their ancestors and will continue to share these special events with the community for years to come.”

“The Mid-Autumn Festival, like American Thanksgiving, is held in part to celebrate the harvest. It is a day for family gathering and reunion,” noted Brannan. “The celebrations contribute to the local cultural diversity and social integration while providing a prospect for people to know more about the traditional Asian cultures.”

Over 200 high school-age volunteers helped out with the festivities, Tin said.

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