By Jennifer Corr
The Syosset Long Island Rail Road station on the morning of March 18 was the scene of a massive celebration. The air was filled with the smell of delicious food and the mood was bustling with commerce, celebration, artistry and excitement as vendors sold various foods, gifts and crafts and as the first Lunar New Year Float Parade and Asian Food Festival was kicking off.
The Alliance of Urban United Development and Inclusion had organized the event, and it was sponsored by ABI Health Care.
“I’m so honored to be one of the founders and hosts of this exciting event celebrating the diversity of our community’s cultural heritage,” said Annie Teng in front of the crowd at the event’s stage, which was provided by the Town of Oyster Bay. “As we all know food is one of our most universal and beloved ways to connect with each other and today we have a variety of food and snacks prepared by talented chefs and cooks in our community, but that is not all. We also have a fantastic float parade to showcase the vibrancy of our community, from dance performances to floats adorned with flowers and decorations.”
Teng added that she was happy to see so many people from all different ages and backgrounds attending the event.
“Enjoy each other’s company and sharing in the celebration of our shared community,” Teng said. “It reminds us of the beauty and the value of diversity and how much we can learn from each other.”
The young Richard Tang sang the National Anthem after Teng’s speech.
“This is a very Americanized moment because this is the American dream,” said the host Zao Zao, assisted by her young co-host, Lincoln. “Wherever you come from, you’re here. You love America.”
Local officials were also in attendance, including New York Assemblyman Jake Blumencranz, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joesph Saladino, Town of Oyster Bay Clerk Richard LaMarca, Syosset Central School District Supervisor Dr. Thomas Rogers and Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena.
Supervisor Saladino had the honor of being crowned The God of Money. According to The China Project, “Caishen (The God of Money) is the object of prayers across the country, followers hoping some of his vast bounty of wealth, carried about for him by his attendants, will be donated to them.”
“As your supervisor, and now the God of Wealth, I proclaim prosperity and wealth for each and every one of you,” Supervisor Saladino said. “I also want you to know that we are partners with you. We are one family in the Town of Oyster Bay.”
He was busy taking photos with many of the attendees during the day.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Assemblyman Blumencranz said. “I’m so happy to see so many familiar faces and so many new ones from here in Syosset, to Jericho, to all over Long Island. It’s so important we celebrate both the Lunar New Year and the cultural significance of all of our cultures here in the area.”
Town Clerk LaMarca said the day was a time to gather the vast contributions of Asian Americans to our society.
“We share stories of our ancestors and connect with one another with the goal of gaining a greater appreciation of diverse and shared values,” Town Clerk LaMarca said. “Together, our diversity and inclusion of one-another’s values builds a stronger and more vibrant community.”
LaMarca added that the celebration meant a lot to his family; his Asian American wife Justine and Asian-American twins.
Vendors included Beijing Cuisine on JUQI, Eatery 19, OCM Globe Inc. (a Chinese Authentic National Food Brands Wholesaler and Distributor), Kissena & Sanford Bubble Tea, among others. There were also many performances, including a dragon dance from HBT Middle School students and a Lion Dance, among other dances from students with the Yes I Can Performing Arts Center.
“I’m sure that this will be the day to remember for all of us and I can’t wait to see what next year’s festival will bring