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Dancers in elaborate lion costumes, fireworks displays, and arts and crafts demonstrations filled the University Museum Saturday morning to celebrate the coming of the Chinese New Year and the coming of the Year of the Sheep. About 3000 people attended the annual event, which featured a "Lion Dance and Firecracker Parade" around the museum, performed by members of Cheung's Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy of Philadelphia. Two ornate, colorful lions curled and danced amid the smoke from machine gun bursts of firecrackers. The dance, said one participant, is an ancient tradition. "The story goes that an Emperor was losing a war because his enemies were mounted on elephants," said Jerry Battle, a five year veteran of the academy. "He had a dream that lions could frighten the elephants, so the lion dance was created. The war was won, and the lion dance has been used ever since by Kung Fu academies." Upstairs in the Chinese Rotunda of the museum, a throng of people were surrounded by statues of lions, dragons and Buddhas and treated to demonstrations of traditional arts and crafts. Calligraphy, Chinese brush painting and origami were all on display. A team of origami experts from the Chinese Students Association turned out pandas, cranes, pianos and frogs with practiced ease. "I've been doing this since I was about three," said Wharton sophomore Lillian Sun. "It began just as an alternative to watching television." Volunteers taught Chinese cooking and how to play games, such as Mah Jong -- a rummy game -- and Chinese Chess. Attendees could also investigate the mysteries of I Ching -- a Chinese fortune teller -- to find what the Year of the Sheep holds for them. Chinese tradition says that people born during the Year of the Sheep, which will begin on February 15, will be elegant, wise and compassionate, but shy, pessimistic and puzzled by life. Wharton junior Tracy Kao, president of CSA, said that the group has been collaborating on the event with the museum for seven years. "We try to have the celebration a little before Chinese New Year, which is February 15th," Kao said. "That way if people like what they see here, they can go down to Chinatown and see the celebrations there." Members of Cheung's Academy also gave a demonstration of the martial arts. Backed by a hypnotic pulsing of drums and cymbals, they started a series of barehanded, dancelike movements. As they began to move through the different sequences, they started an "arms race" which included farmer's hoes, swords, spears and knives. Blades flew precariously through the air as the fighters rolled, jumped and dodged around the stage. The Flower Drum Dancers, from the South Jersey Chinese Community Center, put on a display of traditional fan dancing, which was far less dangerous than the Kung Fu school's knife, but even more graceful.

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