On the Town: Americana at Brand celebrates Lunar New Year

The 2020 Lunar New Year celebration at the Americana at Brand brought out the dragons, known to symbolize wisdom, power, wealth and good fortune.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

This past Sunday afternoon marked the 2020 Lunar New Year celebration at the Americana at Brand.

Dozens of revelers were present to celebrate the Year of the Metal Rat. There were free cultural performances, arts and crafts booths, and gourmet food on “the Green.”

First on the program was the Dragon Dance, with a parade around the perimeter of the Americana. Along Americana Way, pretty girls in red loudly drummed away bad spirits. Then came the dragons. Crowds lined both sides of the street hoping a dragon would come their way and shake children’s hands.

After the parade, Chinese and Korean dances were performed on a stage erected in front of the Pacific Theatres. The audience sat on the grass. The children’s eyes were big as they saw the colorful costumes on twirling dancers. Their parents picnicked and chatted.


If dancing wasn’t your thing, there were plenty of craft booths to enjoy, such as calligraphy demos. All booths were free except the dough figurines and sugar painting.

Only $5 worth of tickets allowed you to make figurines and paint with sugar.

Glendale resident Shushaa Karapetian planned to have lunch at the Americana with a friend and was surprised by the celebration.

“We had no idea what was going on,” she said.


Another Glendale resident, Artyam Manukyan, who said the Americana was “the only place to come,” was also pleasantly surprised by the festivities.

The actual Lunar New Year of the Rat will be celebrated on Jan. 25. The rat is the Chinese zodiac sign for being inquisitive, shrewd and resourceful. The rat is also the first in the rotation of the 12 zodiac signs, meaning that a Rat Year is a year of renewal.

Senior citizens are treated like royalty at Adventist Health Glendale. The hospital provides lectures, luncheons, exercise programs and workshops, all for free, all year long.

Anyone 60 years old and older can take advantage of all these perks of the Live Well Senior program.

This past Friday, close to 200 seniors filled the hospital’s auditorium for the program’s monthly Live Well Luncheon.

Glendale residents Elizabeth Mangun, 73, and Angeline Vukos, “70 plus,” met attending the luncheons, which started nine years ago.

“I’m one of the original ones [to attend],” said Vukos.


While each table of guests took its turn at the healthy buffet of roasted chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, rice and salad, Melissa Varraveto described ongoing programs.

Popular are the free, weekly fitness classes including tai chi, yoga for bone strength, “Balance Fit” and chair yoga. The classes are available Monday through Thursday. Varraveto is the manager of the Live Well Senior program as well as the manager of the volunteer resources program.

Varraveto introduced Michelle Quiroga-Diaz, program and education manager of the California Southland chapter of the Alzheimer’s Assn., which has been associated with the hospital for two years.

Quiroga-Diaz announced a free Alzheimer’s community forum being held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Adventist Health’s Community Services Center Gym.

The forum will include a community discussion about how Adventist Health can help those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or memory loss.

Alice Zulli, Adventist Health’s chaplain, regularly speaks at the hospital’s luncheons, and this time she was the event’s keynote speaker.

Zulli has been on staff at the hospital for 30 years. She supervises the Beyond Loss program of weekly groups for those who have lost a loved one.

Zulli’s luncheon speech covered “Grief is Love: Six Ways to Love Again.” At the opening, she assured her audience, “You will not die from grief.”


More words of wisdom according to Zulli — “Don’t give up. Life is delicious and wonderful. It’s available to everybody. You just get to choose it.”

Having 515 beds, Adventist Health Glendale is the largest medical center serving the San Fernando Valley, with 800 physicians, 2,600 associates and 1,100 volunteers. It was founded in 1905 as the Glendale Sanitarium.

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