Lions covered in fringe shimmied their way into the Silver Creek High School gym Saturday afternoon, keeping time with the beating drums and clashing symbols with their long wagging tongues and bushy eyebrows.

The lion dance kicked off the 2017 Chinese New Year festivities that featured dance, music, crafts and food.

Performers with the Boulder-based Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu Association operated the lion costumes. The performer operating the lion’s front two legs would sometimes cause the creature to rear up by jumping on the shoulders of the performer that operated the back two legs.

The Asian-Pacific Association of Longmont and the Silver Creek Leadership Academy partnered with local sponsors to put on the free event.

Chinese New Year, which is called the Spring Festival in China, is a 15-day celebration that marks the end of winter. This year is the Year of the Rooster and started on Jan. 28.

A Chinese song and fashion show followed the lion dance.

Qi Zhou, a woman from Broomfield, performed in the fashion show in a traditional silky Chinese sheath dress called a qi pao or a cheongsam. Zhou said she didn’t design the cheongsam she was wearing but she is a fashion designer and works on blending eastern and western styles for a modern look.

Zhou said she and the other women in the fashion show practiced the fluid movements with silk parasols once a week for two months.

“We wanted to show the beauty in Chinse traditions and so we used traditional clothes and authentic movements and umbrellas,” Zhou said. “The umbrellas are from the southeast region of China.”

Jo Zhou, no relation to Qui Zhou, also performed in the fashion show. The Longmont native said she thought the annual event at Silver Creek was a great way for people to experience the Chinese culture.

The Shaolin Hung Mei Kung Fu Association performed more demonstrations and students from the Bohua Chinese School in Boulder performed dances.

Silu Wang, a 5-year-old student at Bohua Chinese School who lives in Superior, said she really liked dancing and wearing her costume — a sparkly bright green dress with gold accents.

Wang’s mom, Zhiman Guo, said the little girls danced a song about a pond and the girls wore green to symbolize the movement of lily pads on the pond.

“I’m so proud of her. Today, she was the youngest on the stage,” Guo said, adding that Wang had been practicing the dance since September.

Violin students from the Flatirons Strings Academy played Chinese musical pieces and the Gu Fueng Tai Chi Club demonstrated Tai Chi moves, even pulling Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs and Silver Creek High Principal Erick Finnestead into the lesson.

To round out the performances, Denver Taiko members performed traditional Japanese drumming.

Outside the gym, children excitedly ran between tables and booths demonstrating crafts and skills like origami and Chinese brush painting. One table sold the traditional red envelopes associated with Chinese New Year.

Abby Jin, 6, concentrated hard on using chopsticks at one of the tables to drop Fruit Loops one-by-one into a bag. Her mom, Shirley Meng, said they come to the celebration every year.

“I’m Chinese, so I think she is good at using the chopsticks because we’ve been letting her do it since she was very little,” Meng said. “It’s an awesome party with the (lion) dance and all the kids’ activities.”

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, or

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