CHICAGO: The Asian American Coalition of Chicago (AACC) celebrated its 36th annual Lunar New Year Celebration – the Year of the Pig – at Hyatt Regency O’Hare on Saturday, February 23 with the theme “One World. One Vision.”
The dinner banquet this year was hosted by the Filipino American community of Chicago, chaired by Aurora Austriaco, a law firm owner who in 2012 became the first Asian American President of Chicago Bar Association.
An extravagant Asian-inspired dinner menu along with an award ceremony to honor community leaders and outstanding youths and captivating Asian cultural performances of local talent including Punjabi Bhangra entertained the guests. The celebrations brought together more than 1,000 guests including Asian American community leaders, dignitaries, elected officials, corporate sponsors and the City’s movers and shakers. The AACC Lunar New Year Gala is the largest event of its kind in the Midwest.
“The purpose of Asian American Coalition of Chicago is to unite all Asian Americans into a significant force for strengthening the Asian American community in the United States, and recognizing Asian American contributions to the American democracy and economy,” said Rajinder Singh Mago, Executive Secretary of AACC Board.
Secretary of State Jesse White, State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Comptroller Susan Mendoza, US Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthy and Sean Casten, US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, State Senator Ram Villivalam, State Representatives Theresa Mah, State Representative Karina Villa were amongst many federal, state and local government officials. Most of the Chicago mayoral candidates participated in the political forum which took place before the dinner banquet started. The Asian American candidates running for office in the upcoming primaries were also highlighted. The Consuls General of many Asian countries also attended and were recognized. More than 70 Indian American community members attended the dinner banquet.
ABC-7 Chicago TV anchors Ravi Baichwal, Eric Hong and Cate Cauguiran; Billy Dec, an entertainment personality, and Marc Rita, a theater and video actor and director, served as emcees for the evening.
This year, AACC’s most prestigious Pan Asian American Ping Tom Memorial Award was presented to Tina Tchen, who served as an assistant to President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Grand Asian American Sandra Otaka Memorial Award was given to ABC7 Chicago which has for many years shown its strong connection to the Asian community by consistently hiring the most Asian talent of any network. It also honors Asian Heritage Month every year.
The Coalition presented the awardees of the 2019 Exemplary Community Service Awards and the Youth Who Excels Awards.
Balwinder Singh Girn, a senior Project Manager with Northern Trust Corporation with leadership roles in Asian American Business Resource Council and the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), received the Indian American Community Service award and Julian Pierce Prem Lalvani-Dudley a senior at Glenbard South High School, received the Indian American Community Youth Who Excels award for his amazing accomplishments.
The AACC, founded in 1983, is represented by more than 16 Asian American cultures including Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thailand, and Vietnamese communities. The nine major Asian American communities have been taking turns to host this event.
Other performances included Lions Dance, Niles North High School Filipino Dance Group, Tsukasa Taiko Drummers, Vietnamese Truc Lam Youth Association, and Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago which presented the Northwestern University Bhangra team.
The gavel was passed on to the Indian American community who will host the 37t Annual AACC Lunar New Year Celebration event on Saturday, February 8, 2020, at Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Rosemont, Illinois.