Enter the Dragon 2011

15 Dec

According to ancient Chinese tradition, the celestial dragon was symbolic of the emperor and his imperial power. Today, it is a symbol of good fortune for ringing in the New Year, right here in T-town. The Tacoma Metro Parks Portland Ave. Community Center organized creative kids from across the city in designing this 35′ Chinese Dragon which will be paraded on Dec. 31 during First Night Tacoma! The creature came to life through the efforts of Community Center members, Sparx units from First Creek and Stewart Middle Schools, and those from Metro Parks, according to Mary Tuttle, Tacoma Metro Parks Senior Arts Coordinator.

This year’s First Night Tacoma! event is built around the Chinese Zodiac, and constructing the vibrant creature gave kids a chance to learn about Chinese culture (the dragon signifies good fortune and happiness). It took team member April Shief eight hours to hand-cut 300 scales from cobalt blue and jade green fabric; industrious kids spent two hours a day for two weeks working on the body. The head alone took three days to complete.

The traditional mythological creature got a Tacoma twist via a long, boxy body that suggests a locomotive (evoking local railroad history); the blue-and-green scales match Metro Parks’ official colors. You can get a close-up look at the dragon in its lair at 912 Broadway, until Dec. 31, when it will snake down crowded city streets. For more info on First Night events: http://www.firstnighttacoma.org.

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