01 . 25 . 20
PHOTOS | AIDAN GALASSETTI & JEN LOUIE
WRITING | JEN LOUIE
Amidst bullets of rain that absorbed into our sweaters and formed rivers in the street, we made our way down Mott Street. Each storefront warmed the otherwise stormy setting with bright red and gold lanterns, tassels, toys, and couplets. We followed the sound of a deep drumbeat until we were enveloped by a troupe of lion dancers and drummers making their way to the entrance of Fay Da Bakery. We would see this ritual, known as 'Cai Qing', repeated on Canal Street, Bowery, and Grand by several different troupes as they brought in good fortune and rid of bad spirits for businesses across the community. Used firecrackers overflowed trash cans and wet confetti clung to any available surface.
As I return to NYC for New Years this year, I swell with feelings of nostalgia and excitement. Growing up, my stomach guided my knowledge of Chinatown- this stand for 蘿蔔糕, that supermarket for 鱼, and Hop Shing for the best 叉烧包. But I return to these streets with curiosity to truly understand what and who, beyond food, makes this place so special.
This month, I learned more about the wonderful longstanding establishment, Wing On Wo & Co, a shop I walked by over a few hundred times as a kid but never bothered to learn more about. Wing On Wo (W.O.W.) has 'sustained ownership over Chinatown's future by growing, protecting and preserving Chinatown's creative culture through arts, culture and activism' through their W.O.W. Project and beautiful storefront. Beneath the spectacle of drummers and lions, between glowing lanterns and revolving Lazy Suzanne's, reside hard-working immigrant family-owned businesses - whom we should celebrate year-round for their commitment that fuels the culture of the Chinatown community.