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Bridgeport, Chinatown, McKinley Park

Chinatown Celebrates Moon Festival With Dancing, Painting And A Huge Mooncake

The annual harvest festival featured a traditional mooncake nearly six feet in diameter.

Dancers perform fan dancing.
Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
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CHINATOWN — Moon Festival Chicago took over Chinatown on Saturday as people turned out for dancing, painting and an enormous mooncake.

The annual celebration at Chinatown Square is one of the most important events of the year in Chinatown as people come together to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, the impending full moon and the harvest.

A centerpiece of the event is the mooncake, a traditional pastry that clocked in this year at nearly 6 feet in diameter.

“Many Chinese people value this festival because it is a time of reunification. We made the mooncake to represent the solidarity of the community,” said Johnny Zheng, who spent four days making the three-flavored mooncake with the help of two other friends.

Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Johnny Zheng (second from right) cuts the mooncake and distributes to the attendees.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
An attendee eats mooncake at the event. The flavors of the mooncake were red bean, lotus paste and five kernels, which are the three most traditional flavors.

The afternoon featured continuous performances showcasing Chinese heritage such as lion dancing, fan dancing and a Qipao fashion show.

Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Lion dancing costumes on the stage.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A boy is stunned by the lion.

While that was going on, 12 artists created paintings of a different zodiac animal assigned to them.

“Zodiac signs are the most Chinese thing you can ever do,” said Won Kim, one of the 12 artists. “It is fundamental for this kind of events to happen because people learn about other culture and see new ways of doing things.”

“It is proud for me to show off that Chicago offers things like this to the visitors,” said Hillary Marzec, owner of a walking tour company. Marzec always brings visitors to Chinatown to explore outside of the big tourist spots of Chicago.

Photos from the festival:

Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A boy helps a chalk artist color the ground. The chalk artist, Rich Alapack, designed the chalk drawing, meaning “we all live here” in Chinese.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Zane Tan, a father of two, took up lion dancing as a hobby more than 10 years ago. “I want my children to keep the Chinese tradition,” Tan said.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A grandfather and his grandson watch the show.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Johlene Hess stands by a calligraphy booth. Hess, from Virginia, was on her first trip to Chicago. “It is the beauty of humans that we have so many different cultures and each one has unique qualities,” Hess said.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
An attendee enjoys herself at the event. Many elderly people living in senior apartments in Chinatown come out to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
An attendee asks Jade Lun about the Chinese traditions of Mid-Autumn Festival. Lun, who won the princess of Miss Chinese Chicago this year, performed in the Qipao show.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
An attendee takes photos of the performances.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
A Wushu master teaches the attendees Kung Fu movements.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
An artist paints a dragon.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Won Kim paints a bull, one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
The crowd takes in the performances.
Credit: Carolyn Chen/Block Club Chicago
Two girls wear traditional Chinese dresses at the event.