The turn of the year always promises bright new beginnings…especially with the sequence of celebrations from January 1 through February, via Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year celebrations. 2023 promised to be the tail end of the pandemic with regulations dropping and a new bivalent covid vaccination. This would be the year to get out and enjoy one of the many Lunar New Year celebrations throughout the Southland.
And then, the shooting in Monterey Park dampened that spirit. Yet, it seemed to make people more determined than ever to uphold their traditions, powering through with festivals and parades from Chinatown to Riverside, performing and celebrating Chinese culture.
So my hiking friends and I headed to the closest celebration in the Inland area: Riverside. We headed out on Saturday, January 28, the first of two festival days that blanketed downtown Riverside with tents, booths, and a large stage for performers. Crafts, art and a glorious array of food offerings stretched from Lime Street to Main, and then north nearly to 6th street.
Among the community booths, was a large table manned by APCTC, or the Asian Pacific Counseling and Treatment Centers. After the shooting in Monterrey Park, the emphasis appeared to be on mental health in the Asian Community. Along those lines, they offered brochures describing mental health services and workshops offered in a number of Asian languages, including Korean, Lao, Mandarin Chinese, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. They are located at 5015 Canyon Crest Drive, Riverside. They can be reached by phone: 951-405-8250 and at www.apctc.org.
There was information for senior citizens, their caregivers, and for children, pamphlets in many languages described how to report hate crimes. APCTC also works with The Anti-Bullying Institute, offering information and zoom meetings for parents wanting to help their children cope with bullying.
The entertainment began with an attention grabbing performance by Senryu Taiko, a drumming ensemble from UC Riverside, followed by a dance by not one, but two dragons who frolicked through the crowd to the delight of both children and adults. It then included a solemn minute of silence, in memory of those killed and injured at Monterrey Park January 21. Then for two days, the community offered a multicultural program of dance, music, martial arts that featured both contemporary bands and traditional dance studios.
Riverside began hosting these festivals in 2010 before the Pandemic but restarted in 2022. It appeared to be very well attended, full of happy sounds, delicious aromas and the bright red color of the New Year.
Original story has been edited to include the Rabbit graphic by Kirk McConnell.