Chinatown begins its two-week party today in celebration of Chinese New Year.

Chinese partying

The Chinese know how to make a party last, with the first of two weeks of New Year celebrations observing the start of the Year of the Rooster -- the Wood Rooster, to be precise.

Festivities begin today as the Chinatown Merchants Association hosts its annual Night in Chinatown. Maunakea Street will be closed to traffic to feature live stage entertainment, craft and T-shirt sales, New Year gifts and symbolic items, and of course, plenty of food booths.

This year's event marks the 100th anniversary of Honolulu City & County and See Dai Doo Society, plus the 120th year anniversary of Buck Toy Club.

The parade, featuring martial arts, lion groups, a 25-foot dragon, music groups and more -- begins at the State Capitol grounds on Richards Street and proceeds down Hotel Street to River Street. Grand Marshall for the parade will be Honolulu's new mayor, Mufi Hannemann.

It's free to simply browse and take in the color of the festivities. The Lunar New Year starts Feb. 9.

Here are other sites of today's festivities:

» Chinatown Cultural Plaza (at Maunakea and Beretania streets): New Year Celebration features fireworks, lion blessings and entertainment from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

» Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Fort Street Mall: The Nuuanu Merchants Association will sponsor lion blessings beginning at 6:30 p.m. at 42 N. King St. Ten lions will traverse the Chinatown district to bring luck and happiness to area businesses.

» Wilcox Park, Fort Street Mall: Stages will be set up for dance groups, cultural demos, and craft and food booths, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

» Pauahi Street: "Friday after 5" craft fair features artisans and food vendors on the mall, beginning at 5 p.m.

Feb. 5

Chinatown Cultural Plaza will host its own New Year Celebration from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., when there will be fireworks, lion blessings and traditional entertainment.

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