By Dawn M Chiossi
Step into Downtown Denville and into the lovely small town of yesteryear. This year Santa’s elves, otherwise known as Denville Downtown Business Improvement District (BID), have been quite busy putting the fine touches on Denville itself. Celebrating community spirit, embracing the small town feel of the town, there’s so much festivity going on: Holiday décor and displays, Hanukkah events, a mailbox specifically designed to hold letters for Santa, and much more.
Thanks to this non-profit organization, the festivity will carry into the New Year and even beyond.
Founded in 2017, Downtown Denville BID supports local efforts to promote and celebrate Denville itself. Offering so much from improvements, to beautification, to programs and activities, there’s something for everyone.
For the Business Improvement District, enhancing Downtown Denville is an inspiration as well as a goal. Through hard work and devotion, the members of this organization seek to create community-inspired events that appeal to shoppers, workers, residents and visitors. Their mission is a simple, but important one: to create a vibrant downtown that reflects Denville’s history where both businesses and residents can flourish.
Through amazing and creative events, activities and fundraisers throughout the year, Downtown Denville BID creates fun for everyone, and they are thrilled to do so. According to Executive Director, Ryan Gleason, “I had always admired Denville’s quaint downtown and strong sense of community, I jumped at the chance to help guide and develop the downtown into the future.”
One of these upcoming events is Denville’s 2nd Annual Lunar New Year. The beginning of the New Year is generally a time when people are excited wipe the slate clean and begin anew, and the Lunar New Year is no different.
Everyone is invited to gather right in the heart of downtown Denville on Broadway. The main event is slated to take place on Sunday, February 10th from the hours of 12:00 to 5:30pm, but this will be a weeklong celebration with themed decorations, traditional music, and other activities taking place before and after the main event.
A great cultural event with activities for the entire family, the Lunar New Year is a wonderful event for everyone, and people of all ages. So, what exactly is the Lunar New Year?
The Lunar New Year is the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar. It is also referred to as Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival,
It differs from the traditional new year because our New Year is based on the Gregorian calendar, while the Lunar New Year is based on a Lunisolar calendar.
The first day of the lunar New Year falls on the new moon. In an interesting twist, every year is represented by a zodiac animal sign.
During the festival lanterns symbolize reunions, socializing and freedom. In some reports, it is said that the Lunar Festival is the true Chinese Valentine’s Day: All worthwhile things to celebrate in the New Year.
According to Gleason, the idea for the Lunar event sprang from BID Chairperson, Kristin Pamperin, “who wanted to engage the business community in a new and exciting way during what many consider a “slower” business month (February).”
Realizing that a celebration was the perfect way to slice through the February doldrums, everyone embraced this innovative idea wholeheartedly. Last year, they celebrated Lunar New Year with the pilot “Year of the Dog” celebration. “The traditional Lunar New Year celebrated by many Asian cultures provided a great opportunity to bring both a sense of cultural education to the downtown while encouraging people to visit, shop, and dine,” Gleason enthuses.
Some of the delights from the ceremony included: A dog parade, a 6 foot tall ice sculptures of a dragon and a dog created live, performances of traditional Chinese Dragon dancers, local business promotions, prizes, giveaways, and so much more.
Feedback from the public was so overwhelmingly positive, that over 600 people attended. They were so enthusiastic from all they saw, they even gave suggestions for the BID’s future events. For officials, they decided right then and there to make the Lunar New Year an annual event for the town.
This year, 2019 is the Year of the Pig. The 12th of all of the zodiac animals, the pig is a symbol of diligence, compassion and generosity in China—all qualities that the world could use in abundance! In Chinese culture the pig is the symbol of wealth.
Although it is still early, Gleason and the rest of the members of BID are eagerly planning this year’s celebration. He shares that so far, they are planning a number of activities that touch on the theme. “Our ice sculptures will be back, we are planning a number of craft projects and other themed inspirations from our local eateries,” he enthuses.
There’s so much more to come. Filled with just as much pageantry, majesty, and brightness as last year, this year’s Lunar events are sure to thrill.
Gleason is thrilled with the message behind it all. “My favorite thing about this event is our opportunity to educate visitors about the meaning and message of Lunar New Year and to provide cultural awareness and understanding of our community. I also loved seeing the families from across the region enjoying our downtown and participating in the activities that we organized for the event,” he remarks.
That message really hit home for him last year when he recalled his worries about the turnout due to snowy weather. “As we got closer to the dog parade event, more and more dogs, many decked out in sweaters and costumes, began to arrive. I knew we had found something special about both the event and our community,” he shares proudly. “It was a great feeling. People really got into the spirit of everything the day was about.”
Illuminating a winter day, Denville’s celebration of the Lunar New Year is just the thing to bring light to the New Year.
For further information or details on this or any other events, please call the Downtown Denville BID at 862-209-7249, and be sure to visit www.downtowndenville.com to stay tuned on the upcoming events as they appear.