What some Denverites hope the Year of the Tiger will bring, for them and the community

In the mythology that dictates what Chinese zodiac signs mean, tigers represent courage, passion and the defeat of evil.

Bakemono dances during a Japanese Arts Network Cultural Mixtape performance during Lunar New Year festivities at the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard. Feb. 5, 2022.

Bakemono dances during a Japanese Arts Network Cultural Mixtape performance during Lunar New Year festivities at the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard. Feb. 5, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
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Pop, pop, pop, pop.

That was the constant noise echoing around the Far East Center on Federal as children ushered in the Year of the Tiger this weekend.

The event, hosted by Truong An Gifts, featured lion dances, martial arts demonstrations, and musical performances. It was one of the largest Lunar New Year celebrations in the city. Hundreds gathered, many dressed in Vietnamese ao dai or Chinese qipao.

Each year in the Chinese 12-year zodiac cycle is represented by a specific animal, each with its own traits. In the mythology that dictates what Chinese zodiac signs mean, tigers represent courage, passion and the defeat of evil. People are encouraged to harness qualities within themselves to take advantage of the tiger’s specific characteristics.

Members of the Colorado Asian Cultural Heritage Center do a dragon dance during Lunar New Year festivities at the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard. Feb. 5, 2022.

Members of the Colorado Asian Cultural Heritage Center do a dragon dance during Lunar New Year festivities at the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard. Feb. 5, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Tai Hunt, a local entrepreneur, hopes he can use his passion to continue growing his career. He, alongside other local Asian-American business owners, are applying for grants to help fund a new small business incubator. He hopes that will lead to more minority-owned ventures getting exposure in Denver.

“You know, for Asians, I think, we were to stay in our lane. We’re taught not to rock the boat. We were taught to just say ‘yes’ and ‘no,'” Hunt said. “And I think this is the year that we’re gonna shake things up.”

Phuc Hyunh, a Vietnamese immigrant who moved to Denver three years ago, echoed the same sentiment. He said last year was a bad one for him, but things are starting to look up.

“I went to school for the spring, but I needed to quit school because I have to go outside and make money,” Hyunh said.

He now works for a restaurant, but on the side, he’s starting a Vietnamese-language YouTube channel, where he vlogs and posts mukbang eating videos. With his channel already boasting 7,000 subscribers, Hyunh wants to grow that number — and hopes everyone gets the chance to pursue their dreams this year.

“Maybe the tiger gives the people in here energy and the power to work and make money,” Hyunh said.

the new year don’t only have to be about money. Phuong Nguyen, a pharmacist, said her big hope for the Year of the Tiger is that it brings the pandemic closer to an end. She has one event on her calendar that she’s been waiting for ever since it was postponed near the start of the pandemic.

“(My fiancé and I) are getting married this year, so that’s kind of our exciting event of this year,” Nguyen said. “We’ve been engaged for two and a half years.”

But while Nguyen is ready to seize the year of the tiger, there are 11 other animals on the Chinese zodiac calendar, and not all of them have a very good forecast. Brian Le was born during the Year of the Dragon and said he’d seen a “scorecard” dragons that gave a poor forecast for this year.

“I think I get an F in romance, prosperity, and professional [career],” he said, laughing a bit. “It’s shaping up to be a supposedly bad year for me, but hopefully it doesn’t.”

Truong An Gifts owner Thanh Luong fields a long line of customers during Lunar New Year festivities at the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard. Feb. 5, 2022.

Truong An Gifts owner Thanh Luong fields a long line of customers during Lunar New Year festivities at the Far East Center on Federal Boulevard. Feb. 5, 2022.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

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