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South Coast Plaza welcomes the Year of the Rat for 10th annual Lunar New Year celebration

South Coast Plaza’s Jewel Court will glitter with traditional red and gold decor the next couple of weeks as the Costa Mesa mall holds its 10th annual celebration of Lunar New Year. This year’s centerpiece features lanterns, crystal chandeliers, flowers, LED lights and 20 giant rats to honor the Year of the Rat.

The rat is the first animal in the 12-year Chinese zodiac, which restarts Saturday.

Legend has it that a cat asked a rat to wake him in the morning for a competition held by the Jade Emperor, but the rat let the cat sleep in and miss it. Later, the rat impressed the Jade Emperor by playing a flute while sitting on an ox, earning him the top spot in the order. The ox came in second.

Orange County’s most iconic rodents, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, paid a visit to South Coast Plaza’s Lunar New Year kickoff event Thursday evening. The mall’s celebration runs through Feb. 9 with entertainment, sales promotions and other activities.

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The celebrations included academic discussions on the food and cultures associated with Lunar New Year in addition to street festivals and lion dancers.

Along with the Southern Wind Lion Dance team, Thien An Performing Arts drummers and models dressed in qipao (traditional Chinese dress), food was a main attraction Thursday.

Din Tai Fung restaurant served soup dumplings; Capital Seafood offered chicken lettuce wraps, the Hall Global Eatery brought out grilled tofu and shiitake mushrooms, and Terrace by Mix Mix served pork adobo with garlic fried rice.

The bar served a festive “Red Envelope” drink made of reposado tequila, blood orange puree, red grapefruit juice, vanilla and club soda.

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And there were ice sculptures of rats holding buckets of coins or mandarin oranges for good luck.

South Coast Plaza is offering a seasonal crystal art lantern with $2,500 in same-day purchases from the mall’s boutiques and restaurants, excluding department stores.

Other festivities during the celebration include:

  • 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and Feb. 1–2, Carousel Court, Level 1: Children’s lantern crafts and Asian cultural performances, including lion dancers, UniStar Children’s Variety Show, Konnect Dance Group, Goreu Traditional Art Group, Irvine Chinese School/South Coast Chinese Cultural Center and Kingsman Dance Group
  • Through Feb. 9 during mall hours, adjacent to Jewel Court, Level 2: China World Heritage photo exhibit from the China National Tourist Office in Los Angeles and the Mount Huangshan collection from Xinhuanet North America
  • Through Feb. 9 during mall hours, Saks Fifth Avenue wing, Level 2, and Jewel Court: Chinese calligraphy exhibition featuring works from calligrapher and master of sinology Fo Tao

South Coast Plaza is at 3333 Bristol St. For more information, call (714) 435-8571 or visit southcoastplaza.com/lunar-new-year.

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