Lunar New Year Celebration

February 24, 2012 10:04:26 AM PST
The Asian American Coalition of Chicago is presenting the 29th annual Lunar New Year Celebration.

The theme this year, "It's Time". Over 1,000 people are expected at the black-tie optional gala. Every year a different Asian community takes turn playing host of Lunar New Year. This year it is the Thai American Community. The evening includes the traditional Lion Dance as well as other performers. The keynote speech will be delivered by his Excellency, Professor Kantathi Suphamongkhon, The 39th Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Kingdom of Thailand. Awards will also be presented during the event. Next year, the Vietnamese American Community will serve as hosts.

29th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration Saturday, February 25th Hyatt Regency O'Hare Rosemont, IL

Tickets are available at $800 per table of ten for this popular star-studded event, on a first-funded, first-seated basis. Purchase information on the website

5PM: Silent Auction/Cocktail reception begins
6:10PM: Opening ceremonies, followed by keynote speech
7:10PM: Dinner Service and awards
9:30PM: Passing of the Gavel to 2013 Host, The Vietnamese American Community
Until Midnight: Dancing


Raymond B. Lee, Owner and President of Golden Country Oriental Food Co. (since 1979) and Golden Ocean Seafood, Inc. (since 1984) has been named the 2012 Pan Asian American Ping Tom Memorial Awardee. Raymond Lee

built his business from a small warehouse on Wells Street in Chicago to what is now one of the largest Asian, African, Caribbean and Oriental wholesale food importers and distributors in the United States. Lee was instrumental in the formation of the Asian American Alliance and served as the President of its Board for three years (1996-1999) and as Director Asian American Alliance (Asian American Small Business Center) (from 1996-2002). The Alliance was an organization comprised of various Asian Chambers of Commerce (Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Vietnamese). He also served as a Chicago Park District Commissioner (1988-1989) and Chicago Board of Education member (1989-1990), becoming the first Asian American appointed to each such position, at a time when there was little or no representation of Asian Pacific Americans on such important boards in Chicago.

Among numerous community and civic service affiliations, Lee is past Chairman, President, and current Secretary of the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce (service in various roles, 1983-present); Managing Director, Chinatown Parking Corporation (service since 1984); Chairman of the Board, Chinese American Development Corporation (since 1985); a member of the Ping Tom Memorial Park Advisory Council (since 1994); and a member of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (2001- present).

The 2012 recipient of the Coalition's Grand Asian American Sandra Otaka Memorial Award, is Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. This award is periodically presented to someone of non-Asian descent, who has made significant contributions to the Asian Pacific American community. The Coalition renamed its Grand Asian Award in 2010 after the late Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sandra Otaka.

The Coalition announces its 2012 Community Service Award recipients as follows:

1. (Mr.) David Lee, Professor Emeritus of Optometry, Illinois College of Optometry; and Board Chairman, Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago, Chinese

American Community Awardee;

2. (Mr.) Jose Renato N. (Napoli) Abella, Quality Assurance Coordinator, John Stroger County Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; Secretary, Filipino Military Alumni Association of Illinois, Filipino American Community Awardee;

3. (Dr.) Vijay Khiani, M.D., Medical Director, Esophageal Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago; Founder, New Life Volunteering Society, Indian American Community Awardee;

4. (Mr.) Kismet Sabbath Argopradipto, Accountant, Proficient Business Systems, Inc; Member, Executive Event Committee, Indonesian American Community of Illinois, Indonesian American Community Awardee;

5. (Ms.) Sharon Harada, (Retired) Assistant Executive Director, Japanese American Service Committee; Newsletter Editor, Midwest Buddhist Temple "Bulletin", Japanese American Community Awardee;

6. (Mr.) Tai Ryang Shin, Founder, Owner and President, Wagger Foods Corporation; Board Chairman, Korean American Association of Chicago, Korean American Community Awardee;

7. (Mr.) Eric C. Tee, 3rd - Year Medical Student, Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, North Chicago, Illinois; Secretary, Malaysian Club of Chicago (2010-2012), Malaysian American Community Awardee;

8. (Mr.) Bala Ghimire, Manager, Chicago Curry House and Curry Hut (Nepalese Cuisine); President, Education Foundation of Nepali Community, Nepali American Community Awardee;

9. (Mr.) Muhammad Munir Akhtar, (community title to be inserted); Founder and CEO, RNA Corporation, Pakistani American Community Awardee;

10. (Mr.) Ruangsuk Chamnankict, Medical Technician, Cook County John H, Stroger Hospital; Member, The Thai Cultural Center and Fine Arts Institute of Illinois (1984- 2011), Thai American Community Awardee; and

11. (Mr.) Michael Nghia Nguyen, Manager, AT&T; Vice President, Vietnamese Association of Illinois, Vietnamese American Community Awardee.

The Coalition announces its 2012 Youth Who Excels Award recipients as follows:

1. (Mr.) Kai Yang E. (Eddie) Lei, 17, Senior, Thomas Kelly High School, Chicago, Illinois, Chinese American Community Awardee;

2. (Mr.) Ryan P. Singh, 19, Sophomore, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, Indian American Community Awardee;

3. (Ms.) Ni Made Nias Yunirika Asnawa, and (Ms.) Ni Nyoman Nias Yonitika Asnawa, 18, Juniors, Parkland College, Champaign, Illinois, Indonesian American Community Co-Awardees;

4. (Mr.) John Kim, 20, Freshman, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Korean American Community Awardee;

5. (Mr.) Shiva Updhyay, 17, Senior, Stephen Mather High School, Chicago, Nepali American Community Awardee;

6. (Mr.) Aftab Ali, 17, Junior, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois, Pakistani American Community Awardee;

7. (Ms.) Jaichana Sookhakitch, 19, Freshman, College of Lake County, Grayslake, Illinois, Thai American Community Awardee; and

8. (Ms.) Michelle M. Le, 14, Freshman, Stephen Mather High School, Chicago, Illinois, Vietnamese American Community Awardee.