Hundreds of Chinese Americans in the Tri-Cities welcomed 2012 as the Year of the Dragon by feasting on cultural food and enjoying Chinese song and dance Saturday at Richland High School.
"This is to recognize our own culture and to create a bridge with other cultures," said Xiaolin Li, retiring president of the Tri-Cities Chinese American Association.
Li, whose one-year term ended with the festival, said the association strives to perpetuate Chinese culture for its 200 member families throughout the year with various events, but the biggest is the Chinese New Year celebration held in January.
"We are concerned about our American-born children, known as ABCs, losing the culture," Li said.
Li, 33, who moved to the Tri-Cities with his family from the East Bay Area of California, is a native of China.
Saturday's celebration included a social time with Chinese food, and culminated with a two-hour entertainment program at the Richland High School Auditorium.
There were dancers, soloists, a drama, a violin performance and a children's dance to welcome the dragon, each representing Chinese culture.
The program also included Zumba and Salsa dances, which Li said are the association's attempts to bridge to other non-Asian cultures.
"The purpose is to celebrate Chinese culture and to invite American friends. We recognize there are various cultures in the Tri-Cities," he said.
Robert and Kristina Hiner brought their children, Karl and Katherine and foreign exchange student Yanyan Di to the celebration.
"It is a super-friendly event. We felt very welcomed," Hiner said.
Di said she mostly appreciated the Chinese food, which is one of the things she misses by being a foreign exchange student in the U.S.
Fen Jordan, who is from Changsha in China and now lives in Pasco with her American husband, Dennis Jordan, was surprised to see so many Chinese people gathered together.
"I like it," she said.
Dennis Jordan said they met in China and married three years ago, moving to Pasco last year, where he is employed as a manager at Irrigation Specialists.