Lion dancers spewing fire, sparkling firecrackers and countless other festivities welcomed Comets to Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie for one of Texas’ largest celebrations of East Asian culture, welcoming a new year and the approach of spring. And on the night of Feb. 9, students brought their own slice of culture to campus with booths at the Plinth.
This year’s three-week celebration from Jan. 26 – Feb. 11 marked the 17th year that Asia Times Square has hosted vendors and packed crowds in the thousands, each eager for the live entertainment and foods unique to the holiday. Originally beginning in 2007, the festival was known as the Vietnamese “Dem Cho Hoa” (Night Flower Market) before it grew to invite different Asian ethnic groups from across DFW.
While still preserving Asia Times Square’s Vietnamese roots, the 2024 celebration introduced attendees to cuisines from a wide variety of cultures, including Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese, Lao, Indonesia, Japanese, Latino, Filipino, African American, Caucasian and Nigerian.
In between sweet treats and endless merchandise, for the first two weeks of the festival, attendees could view artist alleys, martial arts demonstrations and dance group performances from UTD before the grand finale firecracker celebration on Feb. 11.
Meanwhile, students on campus set up their own vendors and activities during a collaborative event Feb. 9, or Lunar New Year’s Eve, bringing the celebration a little closer to home. Attending organizations included the Filipino Student Association, the Chinese Student Association, the Vietnamese Student Association, the Asian Art Association and Alpha Kappa Delta Phi sorority.
“Having that people interaction [is important], you know, seeing vendors and people enjoying what we have provided, or what we’re selling. It’s been really fulfilling, and it feels really nice,” biology senior Michelle Tran said.
Healthcare studies sophomore Daniel Tran said the holiday is an opportunity to come together.
“Lunar New Year is very important to me, and like most other Asian people growing up, we had this holiday to celebrate with other people. And it’s a good time to gather round with friends to catch up with them,” Tran said.