Mayfair to host first ever Chinese New Year celebration

Organizers hope first Chinese New Year festival at Cottman and Frankford will bring Mayfair together with music, food and dance performances.

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Last year, Eagles fans gathered on the first Sunday in February at Cottman and Frankford avenues to revel in the team’s first Super Bowl victory.

This time around, the Birds are out of it, but a different type of celebration will be taking place at Mayfair’s most prominent intersection on Super Bowl Sunday.

Cottman and Frankford will host Mayfair’s first ever Chinese New Year festival from noon to 5 p.m. Feb. 3. The event will include music, authentic Asian cuisine and dance performances to commemorate the “Year of the Boar.”

It’s a testament to Mayfair’s changing demographics that a celebration usually reserved for Chinatown will also be featured in the Northeast.

In the 19149 ZIP code, which includes Mayfair and parts of Oxford Circle and Castor Gardens, Asians make up just over 15 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey. In 2000, that number was just 5.7 percent.

“This Asian community has invested their time, talent and treasure to purchase homes here, to live here, to operate businesses here,” said Marc Collazzo, executive director of the Mayfair Business Improvement District.

The BID, the Northeast Philadelphia Development Corporation and Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon’s office are hosting the New Year festival.

It’s the second time the groups have come together to host a traditional Asian celebration. In September, the first Mayfair Mid-Autumn Festival was held at Cottman and Frankford.

“We started by trying to introduce the multicultural events and significant celebrations in the Asian-American community over the last year,” Henon said.

Hundreds of people showed up to the September event despite heavy rain, according to Keith Xiao, executive director of the NPDC and owner of F&J Mini Mart on Frankford Avenue.

The NPDC was formed in June as a way of helping Asian immigrants who may not speak English access city services and connect with Henon’s office. Xiao also works part-time for Henon as the councilman’s Asian outreach coordinator.

Xiao and the other organizers of next month’s New Year festival said the traditional Asian celebrations Mayfair has been holding over the last year are not just aimed at the neighborhood’s Chinese population.

In fact, a big part of the effort is to expose all Mayfair residents to Asian traditions and customs.

“A lot of the residents here, I wanted them to know more about the Asian-Chinese culture,” Xiao said.

“The real goal for this event is to work with the (NPDC) to bring the Northeast community together,” Henon said.

“Mayfair’s diversified, in race, religion and culture,” Henon added. “It’s a more integrated kind of community as the population has grown.”

Unless the weather is terrible, the New Year Festival will be held Feb. 3, Collazzo said. Portable heaters will be dispersed through the crowd, and, if the event is canceled, the rain date is Sunday, Feb. 10. ••