Sabrina Yap, 53, of Duarte said she understands that people may be frightened to be in public after the mass killing Saturday, Jan. 21, at a Monterey Park dance hall.
She was there, not long before the shooting.
Yap said her booth — Aroma Breeze, which sells such Hawaiian wares as bags and scarves — enjoyed brisk sales at the Lunar New Year festival a block away from the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. She closed up early two hours before the massacre, driving by to see people dancing inside Star Ballroom Dance Studio.
This Sunday, she is one of the scheduled vendors at the 29th annual Lunar New Year festival organized by the city of Alhambra and its Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s hard not to be scared,” Yap said. Nonetheless, she plans to be there.
“If they’re going to have it, I’m going to be there,” she said.
Organizers announced on Tuesday that the street festival will go on as planned from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, in downtown Alhambra, on Main Street from Garfield Avenue to Second Street.
People can find comfort in being out with community after a tragedy, Yap said, hoping that people will gather to heal together.
Also in Alhambra, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, the dance hall where 26-year-old Brandon Tsay disarmed suspected gunman Huu Can Tran following the deadly rampage in Monterey Park that left 11 people dead, reopened Monday, Jan. 23, according to employees. On Tuesday, the dance hall at 121 S Garfield Ave. was open, with music flowing from inside.
When considering whether or not to move ahead with Sunday’s celebration, John Bwarie, chief executive officer of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce, said he met with business and community leaders, as well as law enforcement and public safety officials in the wake of the tragedy.
“We recognize that this festival has always been a touchpoint for the community to gather, celebrate and take pride in its diversity,” he said. “We recognize the moment we’re in but we do want to find solace and gather for something positive and continue the healing process.”
Bwarie said aside from lion dancers, live candy sculpting demos, activity booths, cultural pavilions and performances, a planned Wellness Pavilion will be expanded, offering mental health resources. Alhambra Police Department members will increase it is visibility.
The emotional toll of the tragedy is not the only factor organizers had to consider.
The festival, which previously attracted 100,000 people when it was held over two days, was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19. Last year’s version was smaller, Bwarie said, while the nation was still emerging from the pandemic. It attracted about 15,000 people.
This year, organizers were expecting about 20,000 to come out.
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“But there are a lot of unknowns now,” Bwarie said. “We want to play our part in helping the community feel like a community again.”
The festival is one of many local events to celebrate the Lunar New Year, traditionally a 15-day holiday period celebrated by more than a billion people around the world and across Asian cultures.
Since 1993, Alhambra’s festival marked the beginning of spring and the arrival of the new year. The new Year of the Rabbit is traditionally a symbol of peace and hope in the Chinese zodiac.
“Our hope is we provide one form of healing, to create some sense of normalcy that is respectful and appropriate,” Bwarie said. “We are ready and we welcome anyone who wants to come out.”
For more information Alhambra’s celebration, visit AlhambraLunarNewYear.com or call 626-282-8481.
Anissa V. Rivera, columnist, “Mom’s the Word,” Pasadena Star-News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Whittier Daily News, Azusa Herald, Glendora Press and West Covina Highlander, San Dimas/La Verne Highlander. Southern California News Group, 181 W. Huntington Drive, Suite 209 Monrovia, CA 91016. 626-497-4869 .