Year of the Snake slithers into Highlands Ranch

HRCA readies for annual Chinese celebration

Dancers perform the Chinese Umbrella Dance last year at Southridge Recreation Center. File photo
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Chinese dragons, traditional dancers, delicacies, music and a bit of New Year’s luck for every child that comes through the door: The 2013 Chinese New Year Celebration at Southridge has a little bit of everything for those wanting to immerse themselves in Chinese culture for an afternoon.

The annual half-day event kicks off at noon Feb. 9 with the five-and-a-half-hour Cultural Fair and Taste of China, featuring food from a half-dozen local Chinese restaurants, folk art displays, crafts, and calligraphy and brush paintings.

It is highlighted by a pair of traditional stage performances from 1-2 and 4-5 p.m. The performances will include lion dances, Chinese folk dancing, martial arts demonstrations and traditional music sparked by a memorable children’s chorus.

“Honestly, it really is one of my most favorite events,” said Highlands Ranch Community Association spokeswoman Jamie Noebel. “It’s so rich culturally, it’s just awesome. When you go into that world, you can close your eyes and you are one of 20 people that are speaking English. It is like being transported into a different land.”

Noebel said it is imperative that people buy their tickets in advance for the event. The facility can hold about 650 per performance and has about 1,000 people go through the Cultural Fair and Taste of China each year, and that’s all they can hold space for.

“It is a guaranteed sellout,” she said. “Every year we have people that come to the door with their children crying because they can’t get in, because we are so oversold. We really encourage people to take care of their tickets ahead of time.”

Every child that enters the magical festival receives a little red envelope as a sign of luck for the New Year, and according to Noebel, the fair offers a glimpse of some of what you would see at an actual Chinese street fair.

The event is sponsored by the Highlands Ranch Cultural Affairs Association as well as the Great Wall Chinese Academy of Highlands Ranch. For more information, please visit www.greatwallchineseacademy.org.