The traditional 15-day celebration of the Lunar New Year will end this week. Across the St George Region, families and friends are gathering to share a meal and to offer each other good wishes for the year ahead.
While the Lunar New Year will always be a special occasion, I can't help but think of how different it has been for the last two years as a result of the pandemic.
The Dragon Dance and street parade in Hurstville is an annual highlight of the celebrations. There are firecrackers, street performers, large inflatable zodiac animals and rides for kids, not to mention the amazing selection of food. Everyone in our area is swept up in the colour, the sounds and the excitement of the occasion.
Sadly, there was no street parade this year and the celebrations are on a much smaller scale, but with no reduction in enthusiasm. There is still singing, dancing, dragons and food. But this year there is also hand sanitiser, QR-Codes, and COVID-19 Safety Marshalls.
I congratulate the organisers of this year's festivities. They have had to find a balance between providing opportunities for celebration while respecting the need to keep people safe.
And as the New Year Celebrations come to an end we see the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination program. If we continue to keep COVID-19 out of our community while the amazing professionals working for NSW Health roll out the vaccination program, then we will be able to return to the large scale public celebrations we have enjoyed in previous years.
From my family to yours, I wish each of you a happy and prosperous Year of the Ox.