Chinese New Year celebration serves as reminder of Belleville’s history

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BELLEVILLE, NJ — The Year of the Tiger was ushered in with Mayor Michael Melham making remarks followed by a virtual fireworks display that lit up the sky over Town Hall on Feb. 1.

Chinese New Year is a time for Belleville to recognize an important chapter in its history. The very first Chinese New Year celebration on the East Coast was held in Belleville 151 years ago. The celebration was only possible because these Chinese immigrants, who had been ostracized and excluded in other communities across the country, had been embraced in Belleville. Even as these Chinese-Americans gave their blood, sweat and tears to build so much of the country’s early railroad system, they were met with prejudice almost everywhere they turned — except in Belleville.

“Belleville has a long history of acceptance and inclusion that proudly continues to this day,” Melham said. “It reminds us that our town is enriched when we open our arms to others. Chinese New Year is a time to enjoy fireworks, eat festive food and celebrate our differences — together.”

The Year of the Tiger, a water tiger, runs from Feb. 1, 2022, till Jan. 21, 2023. The tiger is known as the king of all beasts in China. The zodiac sign tiger is a symbol of strength, exorcizing evils and braveness. Many Chinese children wear hats or shoes with a tiger image for good luck.

The video with Melham’s remarks and the virtual fireworks display can be viewed at

Photos Courtesy of Michael Melham