CHICAGO, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Chicago held a ceremony Friday at the landmark Daley Civic Center to officially kick off the city's celebrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The opening ceremony featured Chinese cultural performances including traditional music, dance, and Chinese martial arts, to usher in the Year of Horse according to the Chinese lunar calendar.
The event will not only help local residents have a better understanding of China and Chinese culture, but also enhance the image of Chicago among Chinese people and attract more Chinese tourists, said Zhao Weiping, the consul general of the Chinese Consulate in Chicago,
Macy's Department Store displayed through its windows the rites of the Chinese Lunar New Year in a form of a shadow play, a traditional Chinese art.
"I know it's the Year of the Horse. I think it (the performance) looks pretty good," a local resident Zach Wardlaw said, standing by the window.
"The art of Asia really intrigues me, like the culture itself," said the other resident.
"I know San Francisco has a humongous celebration so it's time for Chicago to ramp it up and let' s beat San Francisco," said another resident.
The Art Institute of Chicago organized an exhibition of its collections from China to help visitors learn more about the country.
Bloomingdale, an upscale department store, dispatched Chinese red envelope and limited-edition Year of the Horse tote bag to customers.
The 15-day celebrations, running from Jan. 31 through Feb. 14, is part of Chicago's efforts to attract more Chinese tourists, city officials said. It will showcase Chinese dance, music, martial art, as well as Chinese cuisines.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel told Xinhua Thursday that he hoped Chinese tourists could "feel welcome and at home coming to Chicago."