Hui Huang of Croton-on-Hudson and Erqian Na of Yonkers hand-rolled, filled and steamed dumplings for an eager crowd of children in the cafeteria at New Rochelle High School on Saturday. "You like them, yes?" Huang asked Brian Chin, 5, of Mamaroneck as he and his brother Ethan, 8, took turns crimping the doughy edges of the dumplings. "Be careful, it's hot," she warned Katie Yacoub, 11, of Eastchester.
Nearby, Eileen Wang of Valhalla played a modified game of peekaboo with her 3-year-old daughter Emma who was trying on an elaborate, child-sized lion mask at the dance workshop.
Although the Westchester Association of Chinese Americans hosts the event, the gathering is a combined effort bringing together sponsors TD Bank and PepsiCo as well as the faculty and students from local Chinese schools.
Instructors from the Northern Westchester Chinese School, located in Briarcliff, oversaw an elaborate calligraphy station. Tien Chien of Bedford usually teaches traditional brush painting to sixth-graders, but today he was surrounded by aspiring artists of all ages, painting everything from pictures of dragons and trees to the Chinese alphabet.
In addition to calligraphy lessons, the day-long Chinese New Year celebration included children's games, craft projects, a tea ceremony, and a vendor marketplace in the afternoon, followed by a banquet and talent show in the evening.
"We've just left the year of the rabbit behind and entered the year of the dragon," said Zhaohui Xiong, who served as the English-speaking co-master of ceremonies for the evening. "The dragon has long been a symbol of prosperity and well-being."
"It's a good day to celebrate the vibrant and growing Chinese community in Westchester County," said Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino. "I'm hoping this luck holds. It is, after all, the year of the dragon, the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac. There happens to be a little football game tomorrow. So if any of you want to the lucky dragon to come true, we've got to hope for the Giants tomorrow, don't we?""
Astorino also offered words of welcome to the growing Chinese community in Westchester, citing a 41 percent growth in the past 10 years. He joined WACA's awards co-chair Jean Zhang in distributing awards for leadership, community service and academic achievement to three area high school seniors.
"The new generation is our future," Zhang said. "This award recognizes students in our community who are outstanding in academics, leadership and community service, who act as role models for other students. This is very special."
Edgemont High School senior Kathleen Yam of Scarsdale earned the top award, followed by Jonathan Li of Cross River, a senior from John Hay High School. Andrew Guo, a Scarsdale High School senior, received third place.
The evening continued with a talent showcase of songs, dance, tai chi, acrobatics, and ventriloquism, followed by ballroom dance and karaoke. The Year of the Dragon began Jan. 23, 2012.