Lunar New Year roared to life through the hands of budding artists in crayon, colored pencil and magic marker in Uniondale on Saturday.
More than 150 children created drawings with swirling tails and sizzling flames to mark the Year of the Dragon during a competition hosted by Champkids at the Cradle of Aviation Museum.
It is the first time the Port Washington-based arts organization is celebrating the holiday, according to its 16-year-old founder Allena Kim, of Roslyn.
“I always wanted to do this because it’s from my own culture,” she said Saturday. “It’s great to celebrate with the Asian immigrant community.”
Kim founded Champkids with her mom, Fenella, in 2018 to promote creativity and the spirit of competition for kids that may not excel at sports.
An avid artist, Kim entered mail-in art competitions she found in newspapers and magazines as a young child. “I had to wait weeks and even months for a reply back, and I’m too impatient,” she said.
That is when the idea struck her to begin hosting live drawing competitions inspired by ones her mom participated in as a child in Malaysia.
During the competition, students from kindergarten to fifth grade had one hour to create a Lunar New Year themed image. Younger students were given a dragon coloring page while older students tackled something more challenging: a blank sheet of paper.
After some pondering and a bit of sketching and erasing, the sounds of pencil shading and markers streaking across a page filled the room.
At one table, Amelia Ma from New Hyde Park focused on creating a blue sky behind an orange and red dragon. “I wanted to draw it lurking around the town,” the 10-year-old explained.
Jayden Lam, of Williston Park, also featured a multicolored dragon and other symbols of the holiday such as gold coins and fish for prosperity and lanterns Lam adorned with the Chinese character for “fortune.”
Lam, 11, said he enjoys the traditions associated with the new year.
“There’s a lot of fun, and things you can do to have good luck,” he said. “Like yesterday, me and my family came back from a dinner and we had to rush to clean up everything, or else we’d get bad luck.”
Saturday marked the start of Lunar New Year celebrations, expected to continue for 15 days until the next full moon with family gatherings, parades and other festivities.
Winners in both age groups were awarded trophies and prizes and Champkids presented donations to the Tzu Chi Academy in Oyster Bay to buy a new drum for its performance and Buddha's Light International Association to continue charity work in India.
The award ceremony also featured a traditional Chinese lion dance, believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune.
Christine Liu, the first Asian American elected to the North Hempstead town council, said Kim is a great role model for the kids.
“Just be you,” Liu told the audience. “You can love art, you can love music, you can love animé, you can love sports — but whatever you do, do it with all of your heart and be passionate about it.”