Chinese New Year celebrations in Romford

WELCOME to the year of the rabbit!

Havering turned Chinese as the oriental community celebrated its new year with colour, dance and music, writes JANE BALL.

A traditional dancing dragon and lion meandered around Romford Market on the hour every hour between 11am and 4pm on Saturday.

The performance, designed to bring good luck to onlookers and businesses, enthralled 500 spectators, with children and adults forming a conga line behind the procession.

An accompanying drummer warded off evil and bad luck.

Children were given a free red envelope, containing a chocolate coin for good luck, while Chinese businesses handed out fortune cookies and spring rolls to revellers.

Pat Cooper, from Candover Road, Hornchurch, with great-nieces Freya and Tia Walsh, said: “We gave them a lucky red packet with some money in and they spent it in the Chinese Emporium in the Shopping Hall.

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“We arrived at 11am and saw the lion, then stayed until noon to see the dragon.

“To finish off their day we went to the Welcome Inn Chinese Restaurant, in Hornchurch, for a meal.

“The girls loved it and can’t wait for next year. They are going to send Chinese lanterns up from their home with love to their grandma, who died a year ago.”

The event was organised by Romford Shopping Hall – home to three Chinese businesses.

Spokesman Michelle Fitzgibbons said: “The crowd really got involved this year, following the dancing dragon and lion.

“It was like the Pied Piper. There was a real festival atmosphere in the market place.”

The Brewery Romford arranged free face-painting sessions for children.

Centre director, Rubie Charalambous said: “This is just another side to what the Brewery has to offer.”