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Year of the Tiger comes roaring to life at South Coast Plaza’s Lunar New Year celebration

Brian Chuan, from left, Molly Unger, Debra Gunn Downing and Anton Segerstrom at South Coast Plaza's Lunar New Year Thursday.
Brian Chuan, from left, Molly Unger, Debra Gunn Downing and Anton Segerstrom Thursday celebrate the debut of South Coast Plaza’s 12th annual Lunar New Year, celebrating the Year of the Tiger.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

The Year of the Tiger — known in the Chinese zodiac calendar as a time of confidence, courage and self-esteem — has come roaring into vivid life at Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza.

A 12th annual observance of the tradition debuted to the public Thursday and will run through Feb. 20 in the center’s Jewel Court. It invites visitors to celebrate the Lunar New Year with dazzling visual displays, themed gifts and merchandise and several in-store events.

Red envelopes, lanterns and oranges decorate South Coast Plaza's Lunar New Year celebration for the Year of the Tiger.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“It’s always gratifying to see people visiting the enter during this time and enjoying the experiences we’re offering,” South Coast Plaza spokeswoman Debra Gunn Downing said by email Thursday.

A centerpiece display of this year’s festivities features a botanical tiger created by Fiesta Parade Floats, known for producing float masterpieces for the annual Pasadena Tournament of Roses’ Rose Parade. The confident and playful feline springs forth from a waterfall.

Gunn Downing said South Coast Plaza’s Lunar New Year event began as a way to mark an important springtime tradition in many Asian American cultures. The celebration has since become one of the center’s most popular events, attracting visitors from near and far.

Floral decorations are placed atop a high-definition digital pond displaying swimming koi fish.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

To recognize the Year of the Tiger, visitors can interact with a digital koi pond by “throwing” a virtual coin with their smartphones and making a wish, create a photo opportunity underneath vibrantly colored lanterns, receive a limited-edition vase with a minimum purchase and enter to win prizes from select boutiques.

A commemorative pin has also been specially created to allow participants to take home as a keepsake of this year’s festivities.

“We hope that during their visit, our guests are able to feel hopeful for the future as they welcome the Year of the Tiger,” Gunn Downing said.

South Coast Plaza officials stand over a digital koi pond Thursday during the debut of a 12th annual Lunar New Year event.
South Coast Plaza officials stand over a digital koi pond Thursday during the debut of a 12th annual Lunar New Year event marking the Year of the Tiger.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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