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Celebrating Chinese New Year

Lion Dance ritual, Chinese treats on display at Peking Restaurant.

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This year's Chinese New Year celebration welcomes the Year of the Ox (Lunar Year 4707).

It has been more than a decade since the Chinese drum, gong and cymbals were played to ring in Chinese New Year at Peking Imperial Restaurant in downtown McLean. The ancient Chinese Lion Dance ritual will be rekindled for this year's Chinese New Year Eve's celebration to welcome in the Year of the Ox (Lunar Year 4707) on Sunday, Jan. 25. Peking Imperial will feature a special Chinese New Year four-course menu and reservations are strongly recommended as previous celebrations have led to a full house.

David Lo, co-founder and co-owner of Peking Imperial for the last 27 years, hopes that the Chinese Lion Dance performed by the Wong People Kung Fu Association, the Official Lion Dance Team for the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Parade, will help drive away the bad luck and bring in good fortune for everyone. The Lion Dance is based on Taoist principles and has been used for centuries to chase away evil spirits and bad energy (chi).

Since Peking Imperial's opening in 1982, Lion Dance performances to celebrate the Chinese New Year were a yearly tradition for more than a decade. The combination of the Lion Dance and positive chi of everyone involved, martial artists, musicians, restaurant staff, and diners, will create a haven for all to get their luck renewed. "Last year was tough for most of us. We hope this celebration will not only bring us all good health and fortune, but also bring the community together as we look forward to the positive changes of the New Year," Lo said.

FESTIVITIES will start at 5:30 p.m., seating by 5:15 p.m., on Sunday at the Peking Imperial parking lot with synchronized lion dancing, loud music, and firecrackers to scare off the evil spirits then move into the restaurant. The lion will make its rounds in the dining area and be capped off by the

payment to the Lion Dance Team through the traditional choi cheng or "Eating of the Green (lettuce)," which symbolizes money in the U.S. The hong bao, lucky red envelope, contains the payment, but is strung together with the "Green." The lion will pick up the choi cheng in its mouth and chew it, first removing the hong bao and keeping all the bad luck, then throwing out the "greens" and spreading the prosperity in all directions. The lion will continue its work into the main kitchen and complete its dance at The Pub that adjoins the restaurant.

Reservations are being taken for the Sunday, Jan. 25 event. The evening performance and four-course menu featuring Chinese New Year specialties — soup, appetizer, entree, and dessert — will cost $19.95 per person. Call 703-448-0928 to make reservations.

PEKING IMPERIAL RESTAURANT is located at 6827 Redmond Drive, McLean, and is around the corner from the Giant Food store in downtown McLean. The Pub will also be offering drink specials in celebration of Chinese New Year.

Peking Imperial Restaurant is a family-owned restaurant founded by long time McLean residents, David and Alice Lo, in 1982. The Los emigrated from Taiwan more than three decades ago and have lived in McLean for a majority of those years. The couple raised their three sons in McLean and has been participants and supporters of the local community.