By SweSwe Aye/ Myanmar Gazette
Monterey Park, California – The Lunar New Year Festival features vendors, food booths, live entertainment, and amusement rides to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. The city makes the event on January 27 and January 28 from 10 am to 9 pm in the city downtown. Streets closures on East Garvey Avenue between Garfield and Alhambra Avenues.
Monterey Park is in the San Gabriel Valley, seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The majority of residents in the city are Asian descendants and the Lunar New Year Festival of Monterey Park has been celebrated since 2008 and it is one of the biggest festivals in Southern California. Tens of thousands of people including tourists gather for the Lunar New Year Festival every year in Monterey Park. A mass shooting occurred on January 21, 2023, at the Star Ballroom on Lunar New Year’s Eve which left eleven people dead and tragic memories to the community. There is a year over but the community is still struggling to have optimum healing during times of stress and uncertainty.
Los Angeles Times hosted the “ Covering Monterey Park and Community Healing event” on January 19, 2024, at Repetto Elementary School, Monterey Park, and government elected officials, mainstream media, ethnic media, and community members came together to discuss gun control, public safety, and preventions of hate violence. Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez invited everyone to join the city’s Lunar New Year celebration “ I want to invite you to come out on the weekends of January 27 and 28 for the activities of the Lunar New Year to celebrate the year of Dragon. We have tons of vendors and lots of food. A lot of security as well. It’s a very big safe event. I will bring my family, my wife and three daughters. We gonna have an amazing time. Please come and support our community of Monterey Park. See you there” On the festival days, there are more than hundreds of vendors of businesses, non-profit organizations offering different items, gifts, and prize wheel spinners. Attendance is free and thousands of visitors joined the event this year. “ We celebrate the Lunar New Year here again but last year’s mass shooting is still in our memories. You see. It is hard and we need time to get back to normal.” Chang said. He is a resident of Monterey Park. The Monterey Park police department and security are standing by there to help people secure and the firefighters as well. The festival shows Asian cultures and helps local businesses. El Monte residents, Cathy and Albert, who joined the festival said “ This is our first time to join the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park. We see the different beautiful Asian cultures together in the same place. We would like to say Feliz año nuevo “
The elected officials of Monterey Park joined the festival. Monterey Park Councilmember Yuvonne Yiu who is also a candidate for State Senate said “ I would like to thank you everyone for coming to our festival. This is the biggest festival in the whole US. We have a lot of police today. Last year a mass shooting and thus why we had to stop the New Year celebration halfway. But, this year, it is very fortunate and grateful to do it again. I want to say that I do support stopping the hate crimes because it is very important to hold our community to stay united and stand in solidarity.”