Chinese New Year celebrations planned for East Toronto

A Lion Dance will take place along Gerrard Street East in East Chinatown on Feb. 2. A number of area events are planned to help welcome the Year of the Rat.

East Toronto will be welcoming Chinese New Year with a number of events planned for this month and next.

Chinese New Year will be officially welcomed on Saturday, Jan. 25, but celebrations take place in the days before and after.

According to the Chinese Lunar New Year Calendar, 2020 will be the Year of the Rat.

Toronto’s Chinatown East will be holding celebrations as will Gerrard Square and local library branches.

On Jan. 25, the Jones branch of the Toronto Public Library hosts a Saturday Crafternoon – Happy Chinese New Year event for children ages one to five, their families, siblings and caregivers.Participants will be making Year of the Rat bookmarks and stick puppets, and all supplies will be provided.

There is no registration required, and those wishing to take part are welcome to drop in.

The event takes place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Jones library is located at 118 Jones Ave. at the southwest corner of Dundas Street East.

Also on Jan. 25, the Riverdale library invites everyone to listen to a story and make a craft from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. to welcome the Year of the Rat. No registration is required to participate.

The Riverdale library is located at 370 Broadview Ave.

On Sunday, Feb. 2 a celebration including a Lion Dance is planned for East Chinatown, along Gerrard Street East between Broadview Avenue and Howland Road.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce Lion Dance Parade will take place between noon and 2 p.m, and will see the lion dancers visit local businesses in the area.

Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher said the event is always enjoyable and entertaining.

“The lion visits businesses who leave out lettuce and gifts in red envelopes. The lions eat them and spit out the lettuce, which brings good luck and prosperity to the business,” she said.

Fletcher is also organizing a celebration on Saturday, Feb. 8 at Gerrard Square to welcome the Year of the Rat.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors to the shopping centre will be able to take in community information displays, a lion dance and entertainment.

A number of groups will be performing on stage in Gerrard Square from noon to 2 p.m. as part of the celebrations.

Gerrard Square is located at 1000 Gerrard St. E.

“It’s a huge event at Gerrard Square and I’ve been helping to organize it for many years. It is so well attended and enjoyed,” said Fletcher.

“We used to do it along with Jack (Layton) and Peter (Tabuns) back at Matty Eckler Community Centre, but it outgrew that space and now takes place at Gerrard Square.”

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