Dried scallops are all but impossible to find in America, Bally’s regular Anna Catselides said, but they were plentiful Saturday at the casino’s Chinese Marketplace.

The marketplace was just one component of the seventh annual Lunar New Year celebration held by Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City to celebrate Asian culture.

For Catselides, who is Vietnamese, the dried scallops and other items represented a rare taste of home.

“All my friends come in, because those things, we cannot find,” she said. “They have to order from their country. You come here, and you buy it. Even if you have money, you cannot find those things in the supermarket.”

The celebration started at 2 p.m. with the traditional Chinese “waking the lion” ceremony and continued with a 300-person costumed parade that began on the Boardwalk in front of Showboat and ended at the sixth floor atrium at Bally’s. Attendees were given gifts and vouchers to buy food and goods at the Marketplace.

The event is the brainchild of Caesars Vice President of Casino Marketing Steve Hann and Director of Asian Marketing Ricky Hoang, who created it as a way to both showcase the Lunar New Year for the non-Asian community and to celebrate the holiday with its Asian guests.

“We thought it would be a great idea to bring to Atlantic City,” Hann said. “It’s very similar to what goes on in New York Chinatown, Philadelphia Chinatown.”

The vendors were all Asian-American companies based in the New York or Philadelphia area, Hann said. Vendors’ items included jewelry, clothing, cosmetics and other items.

Marinda Lau, president of Great Neck Healthy Food, sold ginseng products from her booth. While most ginseng sold in the U.S. is imported from China, Lau said, hers is grown in Wisconsin.

“We do increase our customers here,” Lau said. “They come every year to my booth because we serve the best quality of the ginseng on the market.”

Not only does it give her business, Lau said, but it gives her and others a chance to celebrate their heritage.

Caesars Atlantic City will continue the celebration at 11 p.m. Feb. 16 with the “Lunar New Year Chinese Show (The Voice of China)“ concert. For more information, call 718-888-3113.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.