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The Year of the Rabbit, 2011-Chinese Cultural Plaza, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tonight was the kickoff of the Chinese New Year celebration. The Year of the Rabbit. I am sorry to see the Year of the Tiger be over, as I was born in the year of the Tiger.

In the Chinese calendar there are twelve signs over twelve years. Year of the Tiger won’t come around again until 2022. I will be 84 years old. My youngest child is also a Tiger, although we are not very much alike.

My boyfriend is a Boar in the Chinese calendar. I’m not sure what each sign means, but we are very opposite from one another and I imagine a Boar and a Tiger would be have quite opposite traits, however they are both fearless.

Tonight the main event was the Lion Dance. There were eight groups of young men, each with their own lion costumes. Two men to a lion, plus the drummers and other instruments.

Every so often the men would switch and two others would take their place. They jumped and leaped around for over half an hour.

In the photo above there are eight lions on the stage and in the foreground are the other members of the troupe and the musicians.

It was a very warm and humid night. I was roasting just standing still wearing one layer of clothing. These boys/men were wearing silk costumes and then were totally covered by a furry thick lion costume.

I think this lion dance is to ward off any evil spirits in the New Year. If so, they did a great job.The sound of the drums was deafening and the clashing of cymbals sent chills right through me.

There were lots of booths surrounding the stage. There were Year of the Rabbit Tee Shirts, 3 for $20, good luck charms on silk cords, 6 for $10, and there were Chinese food specialties of all kinds. There were many jewelry booths selling jade bangles and earrings.

Our evening started with a great Chinese dinner at Noodle Village, my favorite restaurant in Chinatown. First course, lettuce wraps, then the Chef’s special fried rice with shrimp and duck, and for the main dish cashew chicken. Everything was perfect.

The most amazing thing happened before dinner. As we drove up Smith Street, a car pulled out of a parking space three feet from the entrance to the restaurant. I took this as a good luck sign for the coming year.

We had been planning on parking in the lot at the end of the street. This was so unusual, to find a parking place on the street downtown. I have lived in Hawaii all my life and I have never, not even once, had the good fortune to find a parking place on the street.

Actually it reminded me of a joke: Maxine was driving around and around the block looking for a parking space. She said to God, “If  you get me a parking space I will give up smoking and drinking forever”. At that very moment a car pulled out right in front of her. She said, “Oh, God, you can forget about my request, I just got a parking place”.