Lion dancers perform during the Chinese New Year parade in Jacksonville. [Mail Tribune file photo]

SOCCA celebrates the Year of the Rooster

Chinese New Year promises something for everyone, with events that include a run, cooking and art demonstrations, history presentations, acrobatics, tai chi and the ever-popular downtown parade.

Organized by the Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association, the day-long event is Saturday, Feb. 18, at locations throughout Jacksonville.

SOCCA's first celebration kicked off in 2006, the Year of the Dog under the Chinese zodiac. With the 2017 event celebrating the Year of the Rooster, this year's festivities will mark the completion of all 12 animals in the traditional zodiac — which predicts personality attributes for people based on their birth year.

"The fact that we've done it this many years shows we have the support of the crowd," says Joey Ngan, logistics and publicity director for the association.

The Chinese New Year celebration begins at 8:30 a.m. Terry Hall and Wayne Huey will lead tai chi exercises at Bigham Knoll campus, 525 Bigham Knoll Drive. Tai chi uses slow, fluid movements to promote balance, strength, relaxation and mental focus.

Huey will demonstrate Chinese acrobatics, juggling and balancing acts followed by an acrobatics workshop for kids from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Bigham Knoll Ballroom on the Bigham Knoll campus. For adults, Hall will lead a tai chi workshop. Admission is $5.

A family-friendly Lucky Rooster 5K Fun Run begins at 9 a.m. at Bigham Knoll campus. Registration is $17 in advance at soccachinesenewyear.org or $25 the day of the race. Registration is $10 for ages 18 and younger.

At 10:30 a.m., the traditional Chinese New Year Lion Dance Parade begins in downtown Jacksonville. Look for lion and dragon dancers, gongs, pep bands and community groups.

"The parade is always a crowd favorite," Ngan says.

Students from Ashland High School and St. Mary's School will join students from China, Taiwan, Vietnam and Korea to perform traditional dance moves while wearing fanciful lion costumes. Those lining the parade route should watch for subtleties in the performance, such as the students moving the lions' ears, mouths and eyelids.

In Chinese culture, the lion dance is meant to chase away bad luck at the start of auspicious events, such as a new year or a business opening.

Children's activities, including dragon jump houses, will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at City Hall, 206 N. Fifth St. Games, arts and crafts, lantern-building and face-painting are at the Odd Fellows Hall, 175 S. Oregon St.

From noon to 1 p.m., historian Larry Smith presents "Searching for Gold Mountain," the story of early Chinese gold miners who were attracted to the area after gold was discovered in 1851, at Jacksonville library, 340 W. C St. Those who attend can visit the Long Tom Sluice Box Chinese Memorial Fountain and a Chinese Quarter archaeological dig, weather permitting.

Smith also will discuss early Rogue Valley resident Peter Britt and his photographs of Chinese residents from 1 to 2 p.m. at the Jacksonville library. The talk includes a visit to the Peter Britt Gardens.

From noon to 1 p.m., 13-year-old chef Herason Wang will demonstrate how to make Chinese dumplings at Bella Union Restaurant , 170 W. California St. Admission is $5 and includes a sample of the traditional celebratory dish.

Creative Visions Feng Shui owner Sugeet Posey will discuss the principles of feng shui — a method of arranging home and business spaces that is said to promote health and prosperity — from noon to 1 p.m. at the old City Hall, located on the corner of Oregon and Main streets.

More tai chi is from noon to 1 p.m. on the second floor of the U.S. Hotel, 125 E. California St.

Also on the second floor of the hotel, history exhibit "Courage in the Golden Valley" will be displayed from noon to 3 p.m. Highlighting new research by the Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology, the exhibit retells the history of Chinese immigrants through their own stories and artifacts — revealing the challenges and adversities they faced locally.

Visitors can see artifacts and what a Chinese household may have looked like in the 1880s from noon to 2 p.m. at the Chinese Quarter archaeological dig interactive display near Main Street and Veterans Park.

From 12:30 to 2 p.m., award-winning artist Alexey Wang will demonstrate Chinese brush painting. He specializes in painting plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemums, lotus and peony flowers. Peonies are know as the ‘King of Flowers’ and are the symbol of wealth, good fortune, happiness and prosperity in Chinese culture.

Chinese cultural expert David Lei presents "Am I a Rooster or a Monkey?" from 1 to 2 p.m. at the hotel. He will dispel myths about Chinese culture and explore little-known traditions.

Lastly, Chinese scholar and doctor of Chinese medicine Ken Bendant will discuss amusing and insightful perspectives based on the Chinese zodiac from 1 to 2 p.m. at the old City Hall.

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