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Pandemic or not, some folks in Woodstock would not be denied a celebration of the Lunar New Year!

DAVID F. ASHTON - Families from all over the area, including those involved with the Woodstock Elementary School Mandarin Immersion Program participated in the Lunar New Year Parade.Many Woodstock neighbors were both surprised and delighted to see a procession of families carrying colorful lit Chinese-style lanterns, along S.E. 44th Avenue from Steele to Woodstock Boulevard, on Friday evening, February 26.

"The idea of doing this came about because our kids attend Woodstock's Mandarin Immersion Program, and we celebrate Chinese New Year as a family, as do many of our friends," explained its chief organizer, Kelli George, as participating families began to gather.

"I've always loved the idea of having a lantern parade like you might see in China, but I've never organized one before – and this one is so informal!" George said. "With the COVID-19 coronavirus still being a concern, and with everyone being home, it seemed like a good reason to do this!"

It all started with a conversation between a couple of neighbors on their street, after she had suggested it to another parent of a child in the Mandarin Immersion Program who also lives in their block.

"With 2020 being such a rough year for so many, and then 2021 not starting off much better, holding a Lantern Parade to celebrate the end of the two weeks of Lunar New Year feels like the right way to bring light and joy to our neighborhood," George told THE BEE.

"It's a visual way to say 'We see a light at the end of the tunnel'; and to bring light and joy after a difficult time."

By the time the parade started out, a little after 7 p.m. that evening, at least 70 kids and adults had arrived to join in the fun – all of them strolling along S.E. 44th Avenue, lanterns in hand, lighting up the night.


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