Isleton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
On Sunday, March 6, 2011, Isleton’s typically deserted historical Main Street came to life as traditional Chinese lion dancers visited stores and buildings to ring in the Year of the Rabbit.
Isleton is located 22 miles west of Lodi, deep into de San Joaquin-Sacramento-Delta and —as several other river towns— shows distinct Chinese influence. The town’s population doesn’t reach a thousand but, in its heyday, some 1,500 Chinese immigrants called Isleton home.
In addition, Isletonians were treated to a special blessing of the Chinese altar housed in the Bing Kung Tong building by Dr. Alex Feng from The Taoist Center in Oakland.
The Lion Dance has been both a unique and integral element of Chinese culture for over a thousand years. It plays a significant part in the consecration of temples and other holy places, at business openings, planting and harvest times, business celebrations, and religious rites. In China, the lions are considered as a symbol for joy and happiness.
“It’s both beautiful and very interesting” said Levee Restaurant owner Maria Godinez as the dancers pranced around her tables and midday customers, “although it used to be much better before, when there were more businesses here.” Godinez has operated the restaurant for 9 years.