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​Chinese New Year Lights up Jozi skies

The skies above Chinatown in downtown Johannesburg were transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour and light as thousands of enthusiastic Chinese nationals celebrated the dawn of their New Year – the Year of the Goat – on Saturday night.

Revellers watched as the skies burst into a symphony of colours, sights and sounds in an hour-long computer-synchronised fireworks display by Starburst Pyrotechnics, the company behind the 2010 FIFA World Cup opening and closing ceremony fireworks displays.

The area around Commissioner Street in Ferreiratown – the first-ever Chinatown in Johannesburg – has been hosting this “social and cultural extravaganza” every year for more than 60 years. The annual show is organised jointly by the Chinese Association in Gauteng (TCA) and the First Chinatown Association.

With this spectacular display, the area proved once again to be the perfect place to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Johannesburg and for the revellers to be entertained and to interact and pray for a prosperous year lying ahead. “The Chinese tradition of setting off fireworks right after midnight on [their] New Year’s Eve is to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as to drive away the evil spirits. It is believed the person who sets off the first set of fireworks of the New Year will be blessed with good luck,” said TCA secretary Paulette Leong.

The celebrations, which ran from mid-afternoon, included fantastical dancing lion and dragon displays, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese singing and dancing, marching bands and drum majorettes. An abundance of stalls of traditional Chinese food, toys and gifts lined Commissioner Street and added to the festive atmosphere.

There are several commemorative South African heritage building plaques in Johannesburg’s first Chinatown, including the Transvaal Chinese United Club (10 Commissioner Street), Chinese United Club Mansions (6 Commissioner Street) and Chinese Association of Gauteng headquarters (13 Commissioner Street).