The Tucson Chinese Cultural Center will start the Chinese New Year with some tradition — and some change.
The new president-elect of the center, Tina Liao, is one of the changes. But she says she is the first Mandarin-speaking president of the organization, so she brings some tradition as well.
“I’m kind of a new immigrant,” the mainland China-native jokes, “I’ve been here about 25 years.”
Liao says she and her husband came to Tucson more than two decades ago so he could attend the University of Arizona. “We came here for an education and we stayed to build up our life here,” Liao said.
Her life as sitting president of the cultural center starts this summer, but on Saturday, she heads the Chinese New Year celebration as its multilingual emcee.
Tucson Sino Dance and Tucson Sino Choir will be among the performers, with the show opening with a traditional Lion Dance from the cultural center’s own team. Chan says the extravagant dancing dragon and lion ring in the new year and attract good luck. Traditionally in China, Liao says, “for any big celebration, the Lion Dance would start it off.”
Food vendors, craft-making, games and the popular cooking demo will be there, Liao said, but the all-day-event of yesteryear has been shortened because of a smaller budget, she said. The booths representing different regional cuisines also will be gone, volunteer director Susan Chan said.
Chan said last year’s regional approach was nice in theory but proved too tough to execute, and ended up with long lines and frustrated workers.
The Year of the Horse symbolizes a year of prosperity, especially in business, Liao said.