Southland’s Lunar New Year celebrations go on after Monterey Park shooting
The Southland will once again celebrate the Lunar New Year this weekend, with multiple events set to take place across the region, despite the continued mourning and search for answers after a gunman killed 11 people inside a Monterey Park ballroom on Saturday, Jan. 21, as folks toasted the Year of the Rabbit.
The events will take place across Southern California, from downtown Los Angeles to Costa Mesa, from Riverside to Alhambra, where the gunman attempted to continue his killing spree before being thwarted by civilian hero Brandon Tsay.
There will be moments of silence for the victims. There will be increased security to make folks safe.
And, organizers say, there will be the chance for solace and healing.
After all, they say, the Lunar New Year – a traditionally 15-day holiday period celebrated by more than a billion people around the world and across multiple Asian cultures – is a time for hope.
“We recognize that this festival has always been a touchpoint for the community to gather, celebrate and take pride in its diversity,” said John Bwarie, CEO of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing that city’s 29th annual festival. “We recognize the moment we’re in but we do want to find solace and gather for something positive and continue the healing process.”
Organizers are expecting a turnout of 20,000 people for the downtown Alhambra Festival, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29. But, Bwarie said, that could change.
The festival will feature the typical entertainment: lion dancers, live candy sculpting demos, activity booths, cultural pavilions and performances.
But, Bwarie said, a planned wellness pavilion will also be expanded – offering mental health resources.
Tsay, who has been praised for stopping the gunman from killing more people at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio – which Tsay’s family operates – will receive a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department during the event.
The Police Department will also increase its visibility at the festival.
Other large events will do the same.
Organizers of the Lunar New Year Tet Festival, which will welcome the Year of the Cat at the Orange County fairgrounds this weekend, said they have been working closely with local law enforcement and venue officials to increase security.
Metal detectors and bag checks will be implemented at the door.
The festival will also have a moment of silence at 1 p.m. Saturday to honor the Monterey Park shooting victims, as well as all those impacted by the massacre.
Despite the recent tragedy, organizers said they expect more than 40,000 people to attend the festival, which will take place from Friday to Sunday, Jan. 27-29, at the OC Fair & Event Center, in Costa Mesa.
The Riverside Lunar Festival, hosted by Panana Events, will also go ahead as planned – also with beefed up security.
Officer Ryan Railsback, spokesperson for the Riverside Police Department, said that agency has increased the number of officers working security at the event.
The event, which last year drew about 100,000 guests, will take place on Saturday and Sunday in downtown Riverside.
It will kick off with an opening ceremony featuring a lion dance celebration, taiko drums and kung fu performances. The event will also have up to 150 vendors.
“Creating community is an important goal under any circumstance,”Bwarie said. “Now, we find that the ties between us matter most, because we can face this tragedy together and rise above it.”
Other Lunar New Year festivals and events happening this and the following weekend include:
Golden Dragon Lunar New Year Parade: The Chinese Chamber of Commerce will host the 124th parade from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, in Chinatown. Grandstand seats are $40 and up. Information and to buy grandstand seats: bit.ly/3ZOgkXV.
Lunar New Year Celebration – Santa Monica Place: Enjoy activities, demonstrations by balloon and dough artists and lion dance performance for the Year of the Rabbit from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at 395 Santa Monica Place. Shoppers in attendance will receive red envelopes with special deals from participating shops and restaurants. Information: santamonicaplace.com and facebook.com/SantaMonicaPlace.
Lunar New Year – Segerstrom Center for the Arts: This special performance will feature music, festive dance and a fusion of musical traditions conducted by Music Director Carl St. Clair. Additional guest and performers will include Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony. The performance will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Renee & Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, in Costa Mesa. Information: scfta.org.
Lunar New Year Celebration – Irvine Spectrum Center: The event will have a traditional lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, instrumental performances and more from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Irvine Spectrum Center, 670 Spectrum Center Drive. Information: irvinespectrumcenter.com.
Lunar New Year Celebration – South Coast Botanic Garden: The event will include Chinese zodiac scroll making, paper lantern decorating, Chinese paper cutting, game booths, a calligraphy artist demonstration and storytelling on Saturday and Sunday at the at South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Information: southcoastbotanicgarden.org.
Lunar New Year – Americana at Brand: The celebration, which will include lion and dragon dances, will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at 889 Americana Way, in Glendale. There will also be a giveaway of “lucky” red envelopes with special deals from the shopping center’s restaurants and stores through Jan. 31. Information: 818-637-8982 or americanaatbrand.com.
Lunar New Year at Hoi Nguoi Viet Cao Nien: The event – which will include dance and music performances, art activities for children and food – will take place from 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday at the Vietnamese Senior Center, 7245 Corbin Ave., in Winnetka. Information: culturela.org or facebook.com/culturela.
Lunar New Year at the Original Farmers Market: Enjoy lion dance performances, a balloon twist artist’s creations, a rabbit crown-making workshop and red envelope giveaways from 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 4 at 6333 W. Third St., in Los Angeles. Information: 323-933-9211 or farmermarketla.com.
2023 San Gabriel Lunar New Year Festival: The festival will feature a marketplace, chalk art contest, a street food fair, performances, and more from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in the San Gabriel Mission District. Information: sangabrielcity.com.
Staff writers Sarah Hofmann and Yusra Farzan contributed to this report.