Chinese New Year fete joins friends, traditions

After all the hype from the weather people about how much snow was expected in sunny Southern California over the weekend, I was disappointed that there was only a tease of the swirling white flakes. In fact, where I live it was more like slush — those rain drops were trying, though.

The next morning, once again, the mountains that rim our valley were generously dusted with snow, which is always so beautiful.

The “Super Bowl” of the film industry — The Academy Awards — was unfurled on Sunday. Film buff that I am, I eagerly await this night of the “Oscars.” The red carpet walk was, as usual, a great beginning for the event itself and, for some, the only interesting part of the evening. The gowns the actresses were wearing were all stunning. Nothing quirky, like that swan dress of long ago, navigated the sea of tulle, feathers and sparkles.

I must certainly be one of the industry’s favorite customers, because I managed to see all the nominated films this year. I actually saw “The King’s Speech” three times.

This period film, whichshows England’s King George VI’s struggle with a stammer/speech impediment, was certainly well deserving of its Oscar for “Best Picture.” Colin Firth also won for “Best Actor,” while Tom Hutton was named as “Best Director” and David Seidler took home the award for “Best Original Screenplay.”

My favorite moments of the evening came when 73-year-old Seidler said in his acceptance speech, “My father always said I’d be a late bloomer,” and when wild-haired NYU student Luke Matheny bounded up on the stage like an unleashed puppy to accept the Oscar for his live action short film, “God of Love.” The first words out of his mouth were “Should’ve gotten a haircut.”

Now I’m eager to see what this new year of film will bring.


Four years ago Eveline Siracuse, who is of Indonesian and Dutch ancestry, and her cousin, Nora Koonce, began inviting their friends to join them in celebrating the Chinese New Year . Eveline asked her good friend, Monica Sierra, to join them in the party planning, and since then the trio has created a tradition of ringing in the New Year with creative ideas and hospitality at the New Moon Chinese Restaurant in Montrose.This year’s event went off without a hitch.

All three women, devoted to their families and friends, agree that the age-old Chinese New Year tradition is to sincerely wish peace and happiness to everyone.

2011 is the Chinese Lunar New Year 4709, the year of the Metal White Rabbit, which happens to be Eveline’s birth year.

According to the ancients, the metal-rabbit year is the 28th of each 60-year cycle. The metal element makes it a “golden” year, which is good for business.

The décor that the women created held true to Chinese traditions with symbols of happiness, wealth and longevity. Bamboo sprigs representing long life, good health and long-term fortune graced each table. Red envelopes each contained six pennies, a symbol of prosperity. Cute rabbit tokens that could adorn a keychain or be worn as a jewelry accent were given as mementos of this lunar year.

Ryoji Okabe, manager of the restaurant, helped create the menu, which included appetizers of jumbo New York-style egg rolls and paper-wrapped chicken. The entrées were barbecue pork lo mein, Mongolian beef, Shelby’s sweet and spicy chicken, Chloe’s shrimp, braised string beans and steamed white and brown rice.

Among some of the guests wishing each other “Gung Hei Faat Choi” (Happy New Year) were Mark and Art Lamparter, Mike Welty, Ralph and Linda Malmquist, Jeri Benton and Bob Clark, Ian and Pam Spiszman, Paul and Marion Greene, John and Gael Davitt, Marijane Hebert, Jose and Monica Sierra, Marko Swan, Bruce and Debbie Hinckley.

Other revelers included Richard and Sylvia Tilton, Bob and Cathy Keen, Ron and Rosalie Youra, Irshad Haque, Nellie Costanios, John and Ginny Simpson, Ed Gredvig, Dennis Hughes, Michael Marks, Patrick and Daisy Sheedy, Nina Ratliff, Marijane Hebert, Janel Grabowski, John Meynet, Jean-Pierre Galleli, Roger Hensley, Jill Wondries and George Leal, and Dominican Sisters Ramona Bascom and John Martin (“Johnnie”) Fixa. Sister Ramona was a teacher and principal at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy for nearly 30 years but is now retired and lives at her order’s mother house in San Jose.

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