With the Chinese New Year approaching on Jan. 26, George Kwan is diligently sewing, painting, gluing and even making new drumsticks in his west side Cleveland home.
Kwan, one of Cleveland Magazine’s 2009 Most Interesting People in this month's issue, lives a double life this time of year as team leader for his family-run Kwan Lion Dance Team and as a 14-year veteran of the Cleveland Police.
The Kwan family task before the Chinese holiday and Year of the Ox begins is tedious: repair a roughly nine-foot long lion costume with intricate color patterns and a cape for future dances.
“The long costumes are a bear,” Kwan says of the repair work. Kwan has five Lion costumes in different conditions and a kid lion costume, too. The team uses one lion for shows, Kwan said.
The lion repair work has kept Kwan so busy (roughly nine hours a day), he turned down an opportunity to work as a police officer, backing up the Washington D.C. police, at President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“With all the New Years prep, there is no way I could go,” he says.
With the help of his family, the preparation needs to be precise, because a flawed “lion” dance performance can bring bad luck. A flawless “lion” dance can ward off evil spirits and can bring good fortune, happiness, wealth and prosperity.
The Kwan Lion Dance Team is slated for 19 local performances, with each lasting roughly 30 minutes, in the weeks ahead. The team, started by George’s late father, a Chinese immigrant, includes Kwan and 12 relatives.
The team’s scheduled performances are:
Jan. 24: Pearl of the Orient, 1 p.m., 19300 Detroit Road, Rocky River, (440) 333-9902.
Jan. 25: House of Hunan Fairlawn, 2 p.m., 2717 W. Market Street, Fairlawn, (330) 864-8215.
Jan. 25: Li Wah, 6:30 p.m., 2999 Payne Ave., Cleveland, (216) 696-6556.
Jan. 26: Li Wah, 11 a.m.
Jan. 26: Hunan By the Falls, 5 p.m., 508 E. Washington Street, Chagrin Falls, (440) 247-0808.
Jan. 26: House of Hunan Medina, 6:30 p.m., 18 Public Square, Medina, (330) 722-1899.
Jan. 27: Li Wah, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: Imperial Dragon Mentor, 7 p.m., 8310 Tyler Boulevard, Mentor (440-974-8838.
Jan. 31: Li Wah, 11 a.m.
Jan. 31: House of Hunan Akron, 2 p.m., 12 East Exchange Street, Akron (330) 253-1888.
Jan. 31: Hunan Solon, 5 p.m., 6050 Enterprise Parkway, Solon (440) 248-8836.
Jan. 31: Bo Loong, 6 p.m., 3922 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland (216) 391-3113.
Feb. 1: Tink Hall Market, 3 p.m., 1735 East 36th Street, Cleveland.
Feb. 1: Imperial Dragon Mentor, 7 p.m.
Feb. 7: Bo Loong, noon.
Feb. 7: King Wah, 3 p.m., 20668 Center Ridge Road, Rocky River, (440) 331-0330.
Feb. 8: House of Hunan Medina, 4 p.m.
Feb. 8: Imperial Dragon Mentor, 7 p.m.
Feb. 15: Imperial Dragon Mentor, 7 p.m.