The crowd looks on at APCC’s 16th New Year celebration on February 15. • Courtesy Photo
The crowd looks on at APCC’s 16th New Year celebration on February 15. • Courtesy Photo

The Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) hosted its 16th New Year celebration on February 15 at the Tacoma Dome. Each year the celebration features one of the 47 Asian Pacific countries, highlighting its land, its people, its culture, and its performing arts. This year, the spotlight was on the beautiful island country of Tahiti: The heartbeat of French Polynesia.

The Te Fare O Tamatoa (the Royal House of Tamatoa) was the grand host representing Tahiti at this New Year celebration. The matriarch of the family, Madam Manio Radford, together with Manu and Malia Radford, brought the warm, tropical Tahiti to the Pacific Northwest. They showcased a racing canoe and other artifacts to welcome visitors as they entered the lobby of the exhibition hall. Huge posters with photographs of the islanders provided a colorful backdrop for the performances throughout the day. The hour-long Tahitian program was filled with dances, drumming, music, and the story-dance of The Legend of Vahine‘ai-ta‘ata, The Man Eating Woman. All who were present enjoyed the unique combination of history, music, and dance.

The APCC New Year celebration was a full-day family event. The 10-people dragon dance team of the International Chinese Christian Church gave an energetic kick-off for the day. Hawaiian dancers and ukulele musicians greeted each visitor at the main entrance.

Walking through the lobby displaying artifacts from Tahiti and many Asian Pacific countries, the young and the old then went into the main hall to enjoy six hours of cultural performances representing Japan, Hawai‘i/Guam, Philippines, China, India, Laos, Korea, Indonesia, and Samoa.

For those who wanted hands-on experience, they were able to dance along or try new kicks at the demonstration room with a packed schedule on Vietnamese martial arts, Hawaiian hula, Filipino martial arts, Filipino folk dances, Okinawan martial arts, Taiwan aboriginal dance, Thai boxing, Japanese Kendo, Karate, Tae Kwan Do, and Hot Hula.

Some visitors learned how to fold paper cranes at the Japanese Origami tables and write a few characters at the Korean Calligraphy table.
Between performances, visitors checked their raffle ticket numbers to see whether they won one of the loaded, cultural baskets. One visitor won the grand prize of a round-trip Alaska Airline ticket at the end of the event as a return for a two-dollar raffle ticket. Children who completed their cultural passport with stamps from all the major cultural booths received a ticket for the drawing of a junior basket.

Over 60 booths with goods, arts and crafts, information pamphlets, and gift items were there for all to shop and to browse: perfumes and scarves, sparkling toys and breezy fabric, balloons and face-painting, jade stone and origami jewelry, kimono fitting and sari tugging. Children walked around with hand-held balloons in the shapes of bunnies and fish. Their smiling faces were covered by face-painting designs with glitter.

The day could not be completed without sampling the food from the six food booths serving Asian Pacific snacks and dishes. Fiji Island Foods was always ready to crack a coconut for people to take a sip of the sweet juice from the fruit, which went well with the Indonesian dishes from the Tiga Dara Catering or Hawaiian BBQ from the Pacific Island Grill.

Vegetarians enjoyed the food items from the Loving Kindness Vietnamese Foods. Fresh spring rolls gave calm to many palates. Longtime visitors loved the karaoka (deep fried rice/coconut balls) and Siopao (steamed, meat-filled buns) from the Legacy Specialties Filipino Plus. Many lined up to purchase dumplings, egg-rolls, spam musubi, fried rice, and fried noodles from the International Chinese Christian Church in its red-lantern canopy.

Patsy Surh O’Connell (APCC president and founder) and Lua Pritchard (APCC executive director) organized another great New Year celebration for the Washington state residents. Keynote speaker Brigadier General John Cho and many dignitaries came or sent in congratulatory notes to support the work that APCC is doing in the region. The day began with first and second graders from Life Christian Academy singing Chinese songs and was finished with high-school students from Federal Way High School presenting a powerful Samoan performance. APCC is making progress to fulfill its mission of bridging communities and generations through arts, culture, education, and business.

In 2015, APCC will feature Singapore in their 17th New Year celebration in the Tacoma Dome.

For more Opinion stories, click here

Previous articleSakuma speaks up: Farm labor pariah defends his family’s business
Next articleMental illness more than just bad behavior, support is out there