NEW YORK – With a parade of exuberant lion dancers and drummers, Chinese New Year — the Year of the Dog — was celebrated up and down Madison Avenue here on Saturday, bringing out scores of local politicians, Chinese dignitaries and families with their kids and dogs.
“It’s really a very dramatic performance. So many people are running up taking pictures and cell phone videos,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District, which staged the event for the third year in a row.
For the celebration, the Madison Avenue BID partnered with three other BIDs — The Chinatown Partnership, East Midtown Partnership and the Grand Central Partnership — as well as SUNY’s Confucius Institute for Business, to bring greater dimension to the event.
Being the Year of the Dog, the 51 Madison Avenue retailers participating in the celebration were exceptionally dog-friendly. Jonathan Adler, for example, provided dog adoption. Lululemon had a photographer for dog shoots, and there was more than the usual number of doggie water bowls that shopkeepers placed by their entrances. “No matter what day of the year you are here, you do see so many stores on Madison Avenue that put out dog bowls,” said Bauer. “It’s part of the tradition here. Madison Avenue merchants are very keyed into the neighborhood.” On Saturday, there was also Chinese face painting, calligraphy, doggie treats and photo booths.
Displaying the animal-lover in themselves, retailers made donations to the Animal Medical Center, located on York Avenue and 62nd Street in Manhattan, either through a percentage of sales on the day or a flat contribution.
Bauer pointed out that the BID also supports the Chinese New Year celebration in Chinatown, noting that Saturday’s program guide highlighted Chinatown activities, and the event itself was themed “Madison Street to Madison Avenue.” Madison Street is in Chinatown. The BIDs placed ads in Chinese-language newspapers, and the event actually gets picked up in China, with the Madison Avenue BID partnering with the Bund Association to promote Madison Avenue. The Chinese New Year is Friday.
Welcoming dogs is one way for merchants to get more shoppers through their doors and, according to Bauer, most Madison Avenue merchants don’t mind if owners come with their pets.
Among those attending the event were Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney; Ambassador Zhang Qiyue of the People’s Republic of China; Zhao YuMin, deputy consul general of the People’s Republic of China in New York; Xu Yong of the Bund Association for the Promotion of Commerce & Trade, and Anastasia Xenias, PhD, senior international trade specialist and global team leader at the U.S. Department of Commerce.