Photo by Sam Yu
The Lion Dancers of the Jing Ying
Institute of Annapolis draw a large
crowd as they perform at Asian
Spring: A New Year Celebration at
the Francis Scott Key Mall on
FREDERICK -- The rhythmic pulse of kettle
drums echoed through Francis Scott Key Mall on
Saturday afternoon as two ornate Chinese lions
bobbed and weaved through the crowd at center
Two adults from Jing Ying Institute of
Annapolis shrouded themselves in a red silken
drape, their legs becoming those of the lion. A
smaller, green lion controlled by two children
twisted and swayed nearby.
When the drum's cadence burst into a frantic
tempo, the larger lion lurched and engulfed a
red plume held at the end of a 10-foot pole,
drawing laughter and applause from the audience.
Eyes blinking and mouth flapping, the lions
fended off evil spirits and brought good luck to
more than 100 spectators as part of a festival
celebrating the beginning of the Lunar New Year,
which starts Feb. 18. The exact date changes
Many cultures in Asia celebrate the first new
moon of the new year as the traditional
beginning of the year. While the dancing lions
expressed the Chinese tradition, other Asian
cultures also celebrated at the mall.
Rajiv Paul, vice president of the Indian
Association of Frederick, thinks festivals,
public service and education will help bring
awareness to the positive impact people from
India, Pakistan, China and other Asian countries
have on Frederick County.
"We don't want to see divisions, we want to
become part of the fabric of the community in
Frederick," he said. "To bring awareness to our
diversity is the most important thing we can do
to spread our culture."
Paul said sharing cultural experiences with
people who are not from Asia is key to gaining
He thinks assimilation is not about giving up
one's cultural identity, but combining
different ways of thinking to develop a new way
of life. The goal is to create a philosophy that
"In order to be effective, you need to
identify with each other ethnically," he said.
"The melting pot melts together once you
understand what the community is about -- that's
what makes the melting pot work."
Elizabeth Chung, spokeswoman for
Frederick-based cultural education group
Learning Institute For Enrichment and Discovery,
She thinks the most important asset each
ethnic group has is cultural heritage. She hopes
festivals like the one Saturday will show
Frederick residents Asian cultures are diverse,
Chinese culture and history inspired
Frederick native Chris Wilson, 32, to start
studying kung fu more than a decade ago. Wilson
brought his wife, mother and daughters Bailey,
9, and Cailin, 7, to enjoy the festival.
"For me, it wasn't really the defense part of
kung fu that drew me," he said. "It was more the
animal style and how they came along and were
influenced by history."
His fascination with kung fu -- which has
several styles influenced by animal movements --
and Chinese culture led to an eight-year pursuit
of colorful body illustrations featuring a
character from Chinese literature, the Monkey
Swirls of pigment create a panorama of
traditional kung fu scenes that wrap around
Wilson's right forearm, and reach to the top of
On the inside of his forearm, a monkey drinks
from a jug, depicting the drunken monkey style.
Near his elbow, a monkey raises his arms to
mimic the movement of a snake striking. Eric
Brooks from Classic Electric Tattoo on Market
Street drew the scene.
"The documented history really astonishes me,
they can trace foods back to 3,000 years ago and
leaders back to 5,000 years ago," he said. "It's
just great that I can share this with my family
and it shows diversity in Frederick -- they
didn't have this 10 years ago."