The sun blessed Tacoma’s Moon Festival on Saturday, giving performers and participants a chance to shine.
The clear skies also promised that those who stuck around for the evening’s closing ceremonies – a Chinese lantern parade and waterborne lantern launch – may have had a chance to get a glimpse of the moon.
The festival, in its second year at Chinese Reconciliation Park on the waterfront near Old Town, is a popular Asian celebration dating back more than 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty. It’s a special time of year that marks the abundance of the fall harvest and family togetherness.
“It’s one of the biggest festivals in China,” said Linda Kan of University Place, who grew up in Shanghai. “The family gets together and sits down to dinner together.”
There’s even a special dessert: moon cake.
“We all celebrate this special day,” said Jenny Yang of Tacoma. “We love to watch the bright moon in the sky.”
The full moon actually occurred Thursday, but Saturday’s festivalgoers didn’t seem to mind.
“It’s a great celebration,” said Art Schmidt of Old Town. “It’s also a great memorial to that part of our history – a nice piece of recovery.”
Schmidt referred to the park itself, meant to provide a place for reflection and renewal, at the same time it recalls a dark piece of Tacoma’s past: the 1885 forced expulsion of Chinese residents.
Greg Youtz, a member of the board of the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation that helped found the park, said Saturday’s gathering represents the Tacoma of today.
“It’s an international city that has been welcoming people from all over the globe,” he said.
While Chinese and Asian culture were front and center Saturday, the event also featured a wide range of performers representing a variety of cultures – everything from Croatian singers to the Wings of Grace Gospel Choir, with members from several churches in the Tacoma area.
The cross-cultural element worked for Logan Holloway, a University of Puget Sound freshman who served as a festival volunteer, offering rides in a bicycle-powered rickshaw.
“It’s something foreign to people here,” said Holloway, who hadn’t operated a rickshaw before. “It took some getting used to.”
While the rides were officially free, Holloway said some generous riders offered him tips.
“But I’d do it just for the fun,” he added.