Come on down for a party in Chinatown.
The sidewalks of Mott and Mulberry, Bayard and Pell Sts. will be teeming today with people and excitement for the first Chinatown Summer Festival.
Organized to help end the neighborhood's post-9/11 depression, the fest features singers, Chinese opera, lion dancers and arts and crafts. It ends with a screening of the Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
But at the top of most everyone's list is the variety of foods on hand for the crowds expected to fill Columbus Park from noon to 10 p.m.
Several restaurants in the neighborhood will present their delicacies at "A Taste of Chinatown," a sampling of the obvious (egg rolls) and the not-so-obvious (Malaysian mango chicken).
But fill up too fast and you might ruin your chances of being crowned amateur dumpling-eating champion.
The festival is "a great event for all of the city, not just Chinatown," says Bonnie Wong, president of Asian Women in Business, organizers of the event.
Neighborhood restaurants and cafes are enthused. Many will feature specials and offer discounts on menu items.
The festival "gives people a reason to come back down here," said Martin Choy, owner of Silk Road Cafe on Mott St. Vendors will be selling traditional Chinese arts and crafts as well.
Schedule of events at Columbus Park
12:30 p.m. - Lion Dance opens the program.
1 p.m. - Performances
Tai chi demonstrations by members of the C.C. Ma Tai Chi Study Center teach the ancient form of "moving meditation."
Traditional Chinese music performed by members of the CBA Culture and Arts Center, including a Beijing Opera piece, "Guong Fu."
A Chinese tea ceremony, demonstrated by Ellen Li of Ten-Ren Tea House.
Folk songs performed by tenor Shen Haihua.
2 p.m. - A professional dumpling-eating contest features fierce munching machines selected by the International Competitive Eating Association in a four-minute, all-you-can-eat chow-down.
3 p.m. - An amateur dumpling-eating contest; sign up between noon and 2:30 p.m. for a three-minute gorgefest and a chance to win a trophy, a dinner certificate for $80 and a gift bag. $5 entry fee.
4 p.m. - Performances
The comedy troupe Second Generation performs sketches from its Off-Broadway production "The Karaoke Show."
Makalina's Tiny Bubble Band and the Hawaiian Express Dancers play tropical music and perform dances from Polynesia.
A Chinese zither performance by Wang Yi Hwa.
A demonstration of traditional Chinese-warrior face painting by artist Yue Jue.
8 p.m. - A screening of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Bring a blanket.
Originally published on June 28, 2003