By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The Hamilton Police Services were doing its part to ring in 2014 as the Year of the Horse.
As Hamilton and Chinese dignitaries opened up the celebrations for the Chinese Association of Hamilton’s New Year festivities Jan. 18, Police Chief Glenn De Caire added the services’ special touch to the proceedings by having one of its large black mounted police horses patrolling outside city hall for some additional luck for the coming year.
The horse was so impressive, the Consular General of China Hongru Zhong had his photograph taken with the mounted unit.
“The Year of the Horse will endeavor to have good luck and success,” said Zhong, during the opening ceremonies in the council chambers. The ceremony, dances, music, and celebration of Chinese culture are in preparation to kick off the New Year celebrations that begin Jan. 31.
The four-hour event was a partnership among the city, the police service and the Chinese Association of Hamilton. It prompted Zhong to say Canadian and Chinese relations have never been stronger.
“There is a continued friendship between Canada and China,” he said.
Over 400 people joined in the celebrations that included Hamilton Police Service flautist Jin Xie perform a few melodic songs, followed by the Halton-Hamilton Choir. Later the crowd was entertained by the Chinese Dance Group, the Senior Dance Group, the Senior Tai Chi Group, the Hamilton Kids Dazzle Dance team,McMasterUniversitysingers, and Fei-Hong Han, performing on a guzheng, a Chinese zither which has 21 strings and bridges.
The only annoyance during the entire event occurred while Xie began his music. City Hall’s fire alarm went off with a sound like a muted bell. The crowd and Xie endured the alarm for a few minutes before it was finally turned off. Susan Wilson, the Hamilton Police Service’s community relations who hosted the festivities, told the crowd it was a false alarm.
Canada’s lone Chinese senator, Victor Oh of Mississauga, said the Chinese New Year is probably the biggest celebration in the world with most ofAsiainvolved in the 15-day festivities. Oh, who was appointed to the Senate on Jan.18 2013, said the symbolism of the Year of the Horse is profound, since according to the Chinese Zodiac represents physical and mental strength, intense energy, success and rapid development and prosperity.
Oh, who had only arrived to Canada from China a day earlier, also praised former Hamilton councillor Bernie Morelli, who had recently passed away, asking the community to remember his legacy to the police and his commitment to building a better and saferHamilton.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina provided some easy levity, surprising some people by talking in Cantonese, and praising the city’s diverse community for turning out for the event. He recognized Lilian Kwok of Nations Fresh Foods for bringing the grocery store to downtown Hamilton and helping to re-energy the city’s core.
He said Hamilton has always welcomed the Chinese community to live and invest in the city, and officials are now hoping Chinese students studying at McMaster University and Columbia College remain in the community after graduation so they can add to the city’s diverse and expanding economy.
De Caire said the Chinese New Year celebration is a welcome respite and a time for renewal.
“It is a symbol of new beginnings,” he said. “We are proud of the diversity of Hamilton.”