On one of the most miserable winter days of the year, more than 700 people braved the cold and snow to celebrate Chinese New Year in the Langleys.
The Sunday (Feb. 5) event at the Church in the Valley on Fraser Highway was the third annual Lunar New Year Gala organized by members of the local Chinese community and it set an attendance record despite the inclement weather.
"This is the biggest one yet," said Master of Ceremonies Derek Chen.
The first year, about 200 people turned out, the second year, the attendance grew to about 500.
The first event was held in the West Langley Hall, then it moved to the Christ Worship Centre in Surrey before coming back to Langley — and the Church in the Valley — this year.
Chen told the Times the increased turnout reflects the growth in the Chinese community in both Langley City and Township as well as out-of-towners becoming aware of the celebration.
"They actually come over from Surrey, come over from Coquitlam," Chen said.
The family-friendly all-volunteer event started on social media, with the popular Chinese-language We Chat mobile text and voice messaging communication service connecting people interested in holding a New Year's event in Langley, Chen said.
"People shared their idea and it basically gave them a platform to socialize with each other."
Last year, event volunteers formed a group, the Live In Langley Chinese Association, which organized this year's celebration.
Chen said it is very much a home-grown effort.
"The performers are Langley residents, they are not professional performers. They spend a lot of hours (preparing), work really hard."
Local dignitaries on hand to sample the food and watch the two-hour stage show included Township Mayor Jack Froese, along with members of the Township and City councils and MP Mark Warawa.