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Santa Monica Pier Celebrates Year of the Rat with Lights on the Pacific Wheel

Published on January 21, 2020

2020 is Year of the Rat and Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is celebrating Lunar New Year on the Pacific Wheel by featuring red and gold patterns and icons from popular Lunar New Year celebrations.

The Pacific Wheel will display a special light program January 24 – 26 for the Lunar New Year. The program will begin at dusk nightly (around 5 PM) and play throughout the evening. The Ferris wheel will be red and gold and include fun icons, messages, and images of the noble rodent, the rat.

Lunar New Year, sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year or The Spring Festival, is celebrated in many Asian countries at the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February. In 2020, the first day of the Chinese New Year will be on Saturday, 25 January, initiating the Year of the Rat.

Each year in the traditional Chinese calendar coincides with one of the 12 characters of the Chinese zodiac. The 12 zodiac animals are, in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. A Rat year occurs every 12 years. The Year of the Rat is the first zodiac sign in the Chinese zodiac cycle. According to the Chinese zodiac story, in the competition held by the Jade Emperor to decide the zodiac animals, the quick-witted rat asked the diligent ox to take him on a ride to cross the river and jumped down before the ox crossed the finish line, so the rat won the race and became the first of the zodiac animals.

Each of the zodiac characters is associated with different traits and trends for those born in that year. Rats are quick-witted, resourceful, and smart but lack courage. With rich imaginations and sharp observations, they can take advantage of various opportunities well. In Chinese culture, rats represent working diligently and thriftiness, so people born in a Rat year are thought to be wealthy and prosperous.

Los Angeles is home to over 800,000 Asian Americans, the city’s 3rd largest cultural subgroup. Pacific Park is excited to once again celebrate this fun festival with a red and gold light program on the Pacific Wheel all weekend long. The light program begins at sundown nightly and is best viewed from the beaches south of the Pier, Palisades Park north of the Pier, or from the Pier boardwalk past Pacific Park. Tag us (@pacpark) in your posts and we will share your stories and photos!

If you can’t make it out to the Pier to see the light program, you can always watch the Pacific Wheel on our live-streaming webcams at


Feature image courtesy of @likethemountains.