A LUCKY lion was on the rampage around Northfield, spreading good fortune to all businesses and good fun to everyone involved.
The noisy, colourful parade was part of a Chinese celebration held at the Northfield Shopping Centre, which started with a creative workshop in the morning.
Youngsters were invited to make lanterns, take part in a Chinese calligraphy class and play various cultural games before joining organisers on the lion dance parade across town.
Armed with rainbow ribbons they had also made, the families joined in the procession, led by members of the Redditch Chinese Association and their own huge lion.
One family enjoying the atmosphere was Becky Scott-Reed from Northfield with her partner and five-year-old daughter Heidi.
Becky said: “We’ve had a lovely time. We live locally so are down here quite often and we saw it advertised, so we thought we’d come.
“We were supposed to be meeting another family here but they cancelled and they’ve really missed the fun.”
Heidi tried her hand at the ancient art of Chinese calligraphy as well as making a lantern and creating her own colourful ribbon that she then swirled about as part of the parade.
“The ladies and the gentleman running the workshop were lovely. Very friendly and welcoming and it’s lovely for the kids to learn about other cultures,” Becky added.
“Heidi already knew she was a ‘tiger’ according to Chinese astrology so she was happy telling them that and was actually pretty good at playing the chopstick challenge game.”
With the summer holidays looming, Becky was glad to find activities and entertainment for Heidi, a pupil at St Laurence School, to enjoy locally.
She said: “It’s great that they have things like this on at Northfield Centre and especially when it is free. It really is appreciated by the families round here.”
The lion dance procession led from the Northfield Shopping Centre to Prices Square and the event was the grand finale of a wider project encompassing the shopping centre, the town and the park and bringing together individuals, groups and businesses for the Northfield Culture Mash.
The Culture Mash is organised by Northfield Community Partnership, supported by Northfield Business Improvement District (BID), Bromford Housing Association, Middlemore Trust, Arts 50 Alive, Arts Council and Awards For All. Local organisations, such as Northfield Arts Forum and Northfield Ecocentre, also participated.
The week of activities began with Northfield Carnival on Victoria Common, followed by performances, workshops, games and activities, culminating with the Chinese day celebrations on July 11.
Sue Yeng from the Redditch Chinese Association led the creative side of things while her husband Boon performed the lion dance – which should bring good luck to local businesses too.
Sue explained that it had to be a noisy event to drive out any bad luck and the youngsters involved didn’t seem to be deterred by the racket.
Little Hanni Zhenge, aged four, in particular seemed to be quite at home among the festivities as she called in while out shopping with mum Zhuo, originally from China herself.
Zhuo said: “We were just passing while out shopping and saw this was on and my daughter insisted that we come and join in.”
Also making the most of the activities was eight-year-old Rhiannon Rhodes who was shopping with mum Lorraine Tromans when they spotted the event taking place.
Lorraine said: “It has been fantastic. Rhiannon has had her face painted and done a circus workshop which was really good and she’s enjoying all the activities.
“We didn’t know it was on and when we saw it we said we’d just have to take part as it’s such a great opportunity.
“To be involved in these different elements of the Chinese culture is great for the kids. It’s educational for them and they’re learning at the same time as having fun.”
Northfield Shopping Centre Manager Pete Barber said the event had been a great success.
“We have had great fun hosting the Redditch Chinese Association here today and the youngsters seem to have all enjoyed making things in the workshop at the same time as learning about Chinese culture.
“The lion parade is a great way to finish the celebrations and it has brought a great burst of noise and colour to the Northfield community, and hopefully some good luck too.”