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    Posted February 9, 2014 by
    New York City, New York
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    New York’s Flushing Chinatown Celebrates Chinese New Year


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     beachtar photographed the colorful spectacle of the Chinese New Years parade in the neighborhood of Flushing, New York, on February 8. He says the Chinese holiday lasts for 15 days and during that time each year there is one parade in Manhattan and another the next weekend in Queens, the borough where Flushing is located. This was his sixth time attending the parade. 'The highlight of the parade for me is actually walking through the pre-parade staging areas. People are in their costumes and have their banners and instruments, but are relaxed and socializing with friends and family. There's a tingle of anticipation and at the same time everyone is very candid and open,' he said. 'They have yet to put on their marchers' game face.'
    - Jareen, CNN iReport producer

    Between 2000 and 2010 thousands of people made their exodus from Manhattan’s Chinatown—17% of the population to be exact. Where did they go? By all indications, many of them came to Flushing, Queens. During that same period of time Flushing’s population nearly doubled, growing by a startling 93%. And as I shuffled my way along Main Street and Union Street today to take in the Chinese New Years festivities, I had no reason to doubt those numbers.

    New York is host to dozens of parades throughout the year. Some are larger, some are louder, but none rival this Lunar New Year event for the sheer riot of color on display. Red and yellow dragons wend their way through streets of red-coated marching bands, yellow-clad Falun Dafa drummers, and men, women, and children dressed in brightly colored traditional costumes. And all moving to the throbbing beat of Chinese drums, symbols, and gongs.

    As an indication of the growing political power of this vibrant neighborhood, a number of state politicians put in appearances, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James. Following the parade, many of them shared a stage with Congresswoman Grace Meng and a host of representatives from Flushing’s Asian business community.

    The removal of rent control from hundreds of inexpensive Manhattan Chinatown apartments in recent years, together with burgeoning immigration from Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan and Malaysia has contributed to Flushing’s explosive growth. If the trend continues, next year I may need to don one of those dragon costumes myself to get a good view of the parade.
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