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Chinatown rings in Lunar New Year

A roar of happiness greeted the Year of the Tiger Sunday as thousands of people crowded the streets of Manhattan's Chinatown to mark the Lunar New Year.

Spectators stood 10 deep, stepping on firecrackers that popped amid floats and balloons in the parade lineup on Mott Street.

Some at the festival were relieved that as the Chinese new year starts, the U.S. government's initial plan to hold the Sept. 11 trial in Lower Manhattan apparently is fading. Those opposed to the location cite security disruptions around the courthouse and logistical requirements, including loss of business.

But yesterday, the neighborhood was bustling with visitors while residents were "looking to a bright future," said Siukwan Chan, waiting to march in the parade with others from Asian Americans for Equality.

This year's upbeat mood was due not only to expectations the trial will be moved, she said, but also to signs of economic recovery and interest in Chinatown "from mainstream America."

Chinatown has been economically fragile for years, especially since the 9/11 attacks, and people were concerned that security needs would have been a setback to whatever recovery has been made, said Adam Wu, who works in the insurance industry.

"This is what we've been trying to do for years - to bring more people to Chinatown for business," he said, glancing at the almost impassable crowd.

But Steven Chao, a martial arts performer in the parade, thought there would have been some value to prosecuting the suspects in New York. He acknowledged such proceedings would have put a strain on the area, "but I have the feeling that if these men were tried where they did the most damage, it would offer some closure," he said.

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