Guide to Chinese New Year in Sacramento

January 20, 2012 9:14 PM

By LJ Bottjer

Gong Xi Fa Cai means Happy New Year in Mandarin. Sacramento’s rich Chinese history allows several ways to celebrate 2012’S Year of the Dragon in the area.Two small towns along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, Locke and Isleton, were once filled with Chinese immigrants. Today, their descendants and those sensitive to their towns’ heritages continue customs practiced for centuries. In Sacramento the New Year will be celebrated with members of 14 Chinese civic and cultural organizations at their new location – the Scottish Rite Masonic Center.
a friendly chinese dragon 509 360 cnyca Guide to Chinese New Year in Sacramento

Photo Credit: Joseph and Betty Cheung/Permission

Chinese New Year Cultural Association
February 15, 2012
Hours: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: Tickets $5.00/adults bought in advance, $6.00/ bought at door, $1.00 Children 12 years and younger
http://cnyca.net2012 celebrates the 15th year the CNYCA has brought the fun and customs of Chinese New Year to Sacramentans.

Over 2,000 people, most non-Asians come to enjoy the many activities such as traditional lion dances, martial arts and Tai Chi demonstrations performed by area organizations. Music and cultural dance performances will also be occur in Memorial Hall. Dazzling costumes in hundreds of colors are a highlight.

In the surrounding rooms and public spaces children will be taught games and shopping of Chinese and
Asian goods will be available through a variety of vendors, including food which is always an important
component of the New Year’s celebration.

bing kung tong building isleton 300 x 355 Guide to Chinese New Year in Sacramento

Photo Credit: Linda J. Bottjer

Isleton Chinese New Year CelebrationThe Isleton Brannan – Andrus Historical Museum
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Lion Dancers
29 Main St
Isleton, CA 95641
(916) 777-6838

The Chinese have flocked to the small levee town of Isleton since the 1870s. Fire threatened its existence twice and remnants of its history it can still be seen along Main Street. The two-story Bing Kung Tong Building bears both the ravages of time and the commitment of residents to restore it to its former glory. It once served as the heart of the Chinese population for solving crimes and disputes, offering entertainment and giving newcomers a place to feel less lonely.

Meantime, next door the Isleton Museum is chock full of the town’s proud past through series of black and white photos, framed silk embroidered tapestries and even a 1930’s banner welcoming a Nationalist Army general who came to Isleton to gather donations to fight the Communists.

Both non-Asian and Asian businesses support the practice of warding off evil and welcoming New Year’s prosperity with Lion Dancers.

A bit of lettuce is left at the doors to attract the multi-colored creature as it winds up the street. Lettuce of a different color, namely money, is also left in a red envelope.

Call the museum for the event’s time.

downtown locke Guide to Chinese New Year in Sacramento

Photo Credit: Linda J. Bottjer

Town of Locke Chinese New Year Celebration
13920 Main St
Walnut Grove, CA 95690
(916) 776- 1661
http://locketown.comIf you speed too quickly down State Road 160 as it curves along the Sacramento River, it’s easy to miss Locke Road. Quick tip: If you come to Walnut Creek, turn around and head back approximately a mile and turn right at the sign.

Locke has the distinction of being the only town in the United States to be built by the Chinese for the Chinese. This occurred in 1915 after their section of Walnut Creek was ravaged by fire.

Main Street is approximately one city block long. Both it and other streets are dotted with still thriving businesses, restored remnants to the past and street signs in both English and Chinese. Places such as the Dai Loy House and the Chinese Association Museum are open to and accept donations. The Dai Loy features fascinating displays of the town’s not so distant love of gambling while the Association’s activities include free lessons in mah-jongg for beginners.

Other highlights include an art gallery, gift shops and eating Chinese food at the famed Al the Wop and Locke Garden restaurants.

Call the Locke Chinese Medicine Shop at (916)776-2391 for the date and details of the Lion Dancer’s arrival for New Year 2012.

May good luck follow everyone this year!


best of sacramento screen shot Top Kids Cooking and Baking Classes in Sacramento
Head to CBS Sacramento’s 
Best Of page for more local tips on family fun, shopping, nightlife, food, culture and more!

Linda J. Bottjer is a history lover and Chinese food fanatic. Follow her adventures at

Listen Live