Newcastle celebrated Chinese New Year at Honeysuckle on Saturday 21 February 2015.
Rotarians celebrated the 110th anniversary of the founding of Rotary International by Paul Harris on 23 February 1905 as well as embracing Chinese New Year.
The Rotary Club of Newcastle organised the major event “Light Up Newcastle Lantern Walk” from Nobbys to Wickham to celebrate this year’s Rotary theme of Light Up Rotary, as well the year of the goat/sheep.
There were 206 community volunteers, 166 of whom were Rotarians from 16 local Rotary and Rotaract Clubs involved in all aspects of the event.
The Fort Scratchley guns heralded the beginning and completion of the event.
The water activities included tug boat water ballet, racing dragon boats, an authentic Chinese junk moored for visitors to hop on board, and sailing boats adorned with lanterns around the harbour prior to the firework display at 9pm.
On land there was continuous entertainment with a Chinese flavour, international and local guest artists, lion dancers frightening away evil spirits, rickshaws, a Chinese costume photo booth, information stalls on Rotary and the Mission to Seafarers, and Rotary food and drinks stalls keeping the crowds happy.
Rotary Youth Exchange Students representing Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA participated in the official opening. The Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Consul Wang Yue from the The Peoples Republic of China officially opening the event.
Police estimated the crowd to be over 10,000 with 2,000 people participating in the two Lantern walks. 1,500 people carried lanterns from Nobbys to the Honeysuckle Precinct led by the Hunter School of Performing Arts Marching Show Band, and 500 walkers followed the Marching Koalas from the Fig Tree at Wickham into the Honeysuckle mini Chinatown.
The police complimented the organizers on the evening, there were no incidents and police were impressed with crowd behaviour.
Rotary District Governor Gerard McMillan said “I think is a first for Rotary District 9670 where so many worked so tirelessly to achieve multiple goals; to hold a community event as requested by Rotary International President Gary C K Huang, and to showcase Rotary to the community whilst raising much needed funds for the Mission to Seafarers and End Polio Now. We created awareness of the Maritime Centre, the Confucius Institute and built stronger ties with the Chinese community. What the team achieved with the support of so many volunteers, sponsors, various authorities and the Chinese community was truly incredible.”
The Rotarians gave Newcastle a night to remember.
Rotary’s aim is to create peace, understanding and goodwill, and this event clearly demonstrated that.