Sharon, MA – Hundreds of Sharonites descended to the town’s high school on the chilly Saturday night of February 2nd, 2019 to enjoy a three-hour show, produced by and starring the town’s own residents many of whom are school-aged kids.
As frigid as the temperature is outside, the auditorium is full of warmth with abundant new year well-wishes, laughters from jubilant kids lining up in lavish costumes waiting for their turn to step on that stage, and ladies in exquisite Qipao welcoming the show’s patrons. This spring festival gala, the twentieth of its kind, was open to the public free of admission. It was hosted by the Sharon Public Schools (SPS), and organized by many long-time community activists, many of whom members of the Sharon Chinese Association.
The gala featured traditional Chinese songs, a variety of dances, classic and rarely seen Chinese instruments, comedies, tai chi, karate, and other Chinese martial arts etc. The hosts were bilingual and 12 of the 25 shows were performed by kids from the Sharon schools.
While there are subtleties such as the poem Lake Massapoag, composed by poets of the Sharon poem club, that were proven hard to comprehend even by the Chinese descendants, many shows do speak by themselves. As a result, the event was attended by people of various ethnicities with the room reaching close to full capacity thanks in part to the outreach on Facebook and the advertisement by SPS. At present included Sharon High School principal Dr. Jose Libano and Sharon School Committee member Heather Zelevinsky.
The gala is a manifestation of months of meticulous organization by community leaders and generous volunteering by numerous community members. The devotion of these working professionals, overwhelmed at times to balance work and life, is a testament to the community’s desire to provide the town a platform for promoting cultural interaction and enriching what is already a very affluent and diverse culture.
The year of the Pig marks the twentieth anniversary of the community’s celebration of the lunar new year. It would have been impossible without generations of hard work. The following video documents the gist of this remarkable journey (casts speaking Chinese).
It is worth noting that the form of the event has evolved from shows followed by dumpling making, to feeding the hundreds of patrons followed by immersion of them in a show, to what is now an ever more professional show. Moreover, the purpose is also becoming two-fold. Indeed, from 2013, this signature community event started to serve as a flagship occasion for the community to raise funds for the Sharon public schools. This year alone, it raised $6,503 from 20 commercial entities and numerous individuals. All funds over the years have been channeled to and kindly managed by the SPS. The sole purpose of the fund at this point is to award $300 – $1,000 scholarships annually to a number of Chinese language learners in Sharon high at their graduation. The community has started a dialogue with the school district through the Superintendent’s office to work toward extending and diversifying the purpose of this fund.