by Xinhua writers Yang Shilong, Luo Jingjing, Pan Lijun
A dazzling show of fireworks lit up the night sky over the Hudson River in New York City on Thursday as part of the celebrations ringing in the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Saturday.
Prior to the 12-minute display, Huang Ping, Chinese consul general in New York, hosted a celebratory gala dinner for around 300 guests, who were also wowed by the Chinese folk song Liuyang River, performed by Shanghai-born pianist Zhang Haochen.
According to the Chinese lunar calendar, 2020 will be the Year of the Rat, which falls on Jan. 25.
In Chinese culture, the rat signifies agility, vitality and perseverance. It is also the first of all Chinese zodiac animals, marking the beginning of a new 12-year cycle, said Huang.
"So 2020 is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals. At this starting point, I hope both China and the United States can make new progress in development, and our bilateral relationship can take a new turn for more positive and win-win results," he said.
The fireworks display was co-sponsored by the Chinese consulate general in New York and Chinese internet giant Tencent and was executed by Fireworks by Grucci, a New York-based fireworks company.
One of the standout fireworks of the evening, a collection of red "petals" which appeared to form a flower, represented the symbol of Tencent Charity's 99 Charity Day, said Cheng Wu, vice president of Tencent Holdings Limited, in his address.
The fireworks show over Hudson River, launched in 2014 in honor of the Chinese Lunar New Year, has become a must-see for New Yorkers and visitors to the city.
Elsewhere in the city, the top of the Empire State Building in Manhattan is scheduled to be illuminated in red and gold, the auspicious colors of a lucky New Year, from sunset on Thursday to 2 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Friday.
It is the 20th consecutive year that the Manhattan landmark has been lit in honor of the Chinese New Year, which became a public holiday for schools in New York in 2016.
Soaring 443 meters above Midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building has maintained a tradition of changing its color to recognize various occasions and organizations since 1976.
A window display featuring rats designed by the China Arts and Entertainment Group has also been installed in the building's lobby windows on Fifth Avenue.
This year's Lunar New Year celebrations in New York City have also included a special bell-ringing ceremony held at the Nasdaq on Wednesday, an annual New Year's Day Firecracker Ceremony to be held on Jan. 25, as well as a performance by the New York Philharmonic on Jan. 28 and the annual Lunar New Year Parade and Festival in Chinatown on Feb. 9.