Last night we watched in awe as 3,000 participants marched down George Street for the City's Chinese New Year Twilight Parade. The dancing and music, colourful building projections and pyrotechnics make this one of Sydney's great events. The parade included 150 performers who came from various parts of China as part of a Chinese Ministry of Culture tour.
This is the City's 19th Chinese New Year Festival, and the last time the parade will be held on George Street, as construction of the light rail begins soon. We certainly made the most of it with a fabulous evening.
On Thursday last week, Chinese New Year, I was thrilled to welcome the Year of the Sheep with the sounds and sights of Chinatown. Councillor Robert Kok and I greeted hundreds of people and handed out traditional lucky red packets, known as lai-see. We were also treated to performances by the lion dancers who took part in our Twilight Parade.
Our Chinese New Year Festival attracts more than 600,000 visitors to Sydney, but it's always wonderful to spend time in Haymarket to see how much it means to our local community.
In the 2011 Census, over 5% of the City of Sydney's population identified as being born in China, while 11.6% of the population nominated Chinese as one of their ancestries. Haymarket has been home to a significant Chinese-Australian community for more than 100 years.
Over the past five years the City of Sydney has been upgrading streets and laneways throughout Haymarket to help attract more visitors to the area.
In 2012 Little Hay Street, Factory Street and Kimber Lane were improved with wider footpaths, new street furniture and lighting, more trees and beautiful public art. Improvements and traffic changes to Thomas Street between Hay Street and Quay Street are part of the second stage of transforming Chinatown. The design for the area includes a new public space on Thomas Street between Ultimo Road and Thomas Lane, widened footpaths, more street trees and furniture, new paving materials and timed street closures.
Happy New Year, I hope the year of the sheep brings prosperity and happiness to everyone in our community.
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Kung Hei Fat Choy!