The Korean American Association of Clarksville brought the Korean lunar New Year celebration to our city today at the Austin Peay State University ballroom at the Morgan Center. The gala event had all the trappings of a full blown traditional Korean celebration.
Featured speeches by VIP’s, live entertainment, food, and fun and games but with an East Asian twist, its long time Korean American Association President Robert Brooks opened the evening with the formal introduction of VIP’s guests.
Notable local dignitaries consisted of of State Representatives Joe Pitts and Curtis Johnson, Mayor Johnny Piper, County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, Sheriff Norman Lewis, County Trustee Brenda Radford, Highway Supervisor Mike Frost, and members of the Clarksville City Council.
Foreign Dignitaries included the Vice-Mayor of Gunpo City, Korea, and the Vice-Consul General from the Korean Embassy.
The “Year of The Rat,” according the Asian zodiac or animal year chart or calendar, states that those born in the Year of the Rat are told to be smart, witty and speedy in action.
The Lunar New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the New Year. The Asian calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to “catch up” with the solar calendar an extra month is inserted once every few years (seven years out of a 19-year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the New Year celebration falls on a different date each year.
After the prop and circumstances, the night’s events turned in more of a family affair, a time of socializing, reunion and thanksgiving.
Food, the one cultural mainstay consistent in celebrations from around the world regardless of racial or ethnic backgrounds now took the forefront for the evening. Traditional Korean dishes were served inclduing fried rice, sweet and sour chicken, spiced wings, egg rolls, beef Lo Mein & vegetables, several sugar flour covered deserts and various types of Kimchi. The food was delicious and before I knew it, I had consumed a large portion of it, including of seasoned squid and vegetables, which was a first for me. I would not have even known what I had eaten if another table guest had not commented on how good the squid was.
It is impressive how easily the elected officials from Gunpo City Korea interacted with our local elected officials. Though speaking different languages could be barrier, but the only barriers visible in the room tonight was lack of seating for this event.
I have had the luxury of attending this event on numerous prior occasions and each time the room is the epitome of diversity in terms of age and ethnic heritage.
Beauty of Korea, a Korean folk dance group, was accompanied traditional musicians from Gunpo City, Korea, and were a significant part of the night’s entertainment. Also performing was Korean vocal artist Yuri Choe, followed by voice and dance contests. I sadly had to leave before the contest began, but judging from the lists of sponsors and donors listed on the program, the lucky contestants walked away with gift certificates and variety of other prizes!