A Spectacular Lunar New Year Celebration with SCAS and USF Sarasota-Manatee

Feb 29, 2024

On February 10th, the Sister Cities Association of Sarasota (SCAS) and USF Sarasota-Manatee hosted an unforgettable Lunar New Year celebration that became the talk of the town. With over 200 attendees, this event not only marked the beginning of the Year of the Dragon but also set a new record for SCAS event attendance.

Festive Beginnings and Opening Ceremonies

The festivities commenced under the perfect Sarasota sky, where attendees, adorned in festive red and gold, were greeted with traditional rice crackers and fortune cards. The atmosphere was charged with excitement, further amplified by the opportunity to take photos with the stunning display dragon.

The opening ceremonies, led by Diana Friedman (SCAS President) and Dr. Karen Holbrook (Regional Chancellor of USF-SM), were deeply rooted in Chinese tradition, including the presentation of red envelopes to two children from the audience, symbolizing good luck and prosperity.

Kun Shi, SCAS City Director for Xiamen, briefly introduced the Lunar New Year tradition, setting the stage for the day’s performances.

A Tapestry of Cultural Performances

The event was a vibrant showcase of cultural richness, featuring an array of performances on the open-air stage that captivated the audience. Altogether, there were ten performance items: five dances and five pieces of music.

The amazing musician Mr. Baozheng Li played four different instruments, including bamboo flute, erhu and hulusi; Ms. Jingyi Wen played the guzheng which has a history of more than two thousand years.

The dances included “Red Lantern” and “Classical Dance of the Tang Dynasty” from The Zen Rhythm Dance Group; the “Kazakh Dance” by Alinuer Wumaer; the yangge dance by Chunying Yang; and the most memorable dance by Liusha Li and Chunying Yang about the love story named after a young man and woman, LIANG Shanbo and ZHU Yingtai (often called “Liang – Zhu” or “Butterfly Lovers”). The story is so similar to “Romeo and Juliet” that the city of Ningbo in China and the Verona in Italian became sister cities in 2005.

Community Engagement and Future Aspirations

The event’s success was echoed in the enthusiastic feedback from attendees, with many praising it as the best Lunar New Year celebration Sarasota has seen in decades. This celebration was not just about marking a new year but also about fostering a sense of community and shared appreciation for cultural diversity.

What a grand success yesterday was! – Jill and Duane

Saturday’s event was by far the best Chinese New Year celebration that I had ever experienced in Sarasota for the last 20 years. You surely deserve the credit of putting on this wonderful event. All the performances were amazing.  – Theresa

The support from sponsors, and co-sponsors like the Sarasota Chinese Academy, USCPFA Sarasota Chapter, and Jason Liu, along with the dedication of all volunteers, was crucial in bringing this event to life.

As we step into the Year of the Dragon, symbolizing confidence, ambition, and adventure, we carry forward the spirit of the Lunar New Year celebration. This event has once again demonstrated the power of cultural exchange and the importance of community in Sarasota.

We look forward to continuing this tradition and sharing more cultural experiences with the community in the years to come.


  1. Chunying Yang

    I am so glad to participate in this wonderful event. It’s my honor to present a Chinese dance for the enthusiastic audience. Hope we will get together and celebrate again next year!

  2. Kun Shi

    It is an honor to host this Lunar New Year event for the Sarasota community. I am grateful to the support from SCAS, USF Sarasota-Manatee and other co-sponsors as well as performing artists. Hope we will have a larger and better event next year. Best wishes to all for the Year of the Dragon!

Pin It on Pinterest