What do you do when you have a shiny new park? You throw a party, of course. And that’s what is happening at the Chinese Reconciliation Park on Saturday at the first Tacoma Moon Festival.
The park on Ruston Way officially opened in July 2011, but festival chairman Frances Lorenz said the Chinese Reconciliation Park Foundation is having trouble getting the word out. The grounds feature a ting or Chinese pavilion, an elaborate bridge, walkways and landscaping.
“We have discovered that a lot of the community doesn’t know about the park,” Lorenz said.
So the Tacoma Moon Festival was born.
“It’s a 3,000-year-old tradition that seemed new and exciting and fresh,” Lorenz said.
The traditional mid-autumn festival celebrates the ancient Chinese myth of a lost love between an archer and a princess. Once a year, the two reunite. Members of Lincoln High School’s Key Club will stage re-enactments of the moon legend.
The festival also will feature performances from the Japanese, Cambodian, Korean and Vietnamese communities, as well as performances by Seattle’s Chinese Opera and Chinese Orchestra.
A highlight will be a boat race featuring the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac calendar. Lorenz came up with the idea based on a Chinese legend on how the animals obtained their positions in the calendar.
Lynn Di Nino and Becky Frehse, who made a horse for the race, are two of the local artists making the 12 animals. Each 4-foot-tall, lightweight animal will have its own boat and human crew for the race. The animals are being made in a variety of media and the boats themselves range from sail to dragon to rowboat.
Di Nino said hers is made from papier-mché, plastic foam and cardboard. “It’s a red and black Appaloosa, and it’s running,” she said.
Bettors might want to note that the rat won the original race by cheating. Even in ancient China, rats had an image problem.
Children can learn lantern making, calligraphy, martial arts, lion dancing and hula dancing at the festival.
The festival is free but visitors can spend money in the wine garden, food court and bazaar.
A (battery operated) lantern parade at 8 p.m. will be followed by a ceremony bidding farewell to the Moon Princess, who will symbolically return to the moon where she resides.
Tacoma Moon Festival
When: 2-9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Chinese Reconciliation Park, southeastern end of Ruston Way, Tacoma
Information: firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8541