Lunar New Year Festivals, sometimes called Chinese New Year Festivals, have been a virtual gold mine to local cities and more are trying to get into the celebrations.
Monterey Parks’s two-day Lunar New Year Celebration, organized by the World Journal Newspaper, a Chinese Language daily newspaper, drew more than 200,000 people to Monterey Park. Some say that the attendance may have reached 250,000, the equivalent of more than two Rose Bowl games..
What does this mean to the to the city?
Every year’s Lunar New Year festival “puts Monterey Park on the map, fills the stores and restaurants with visitors and hopefully they’ll come back to shop in the city,” said Paul Talbot, Monterey Park City Manager.
Driving around the city, it was quite obvious that Chinese and other restaurants were very busy on the Februrary 19, Lunar New Year day and the following days. The Lunar New Year is celebrated over several weeks, concluding with the “Lantern Festival. Clubs, non-profit organizations, and even politicians scheduled banquets at Chinese restaurants, which efficiently serve hundreds of hungry celebrants.
Because the event is managed by an independent organization, the overall cost to the city is very little, if any. The cost to the city residents is inconvenience of two days of heavy traffic on some residential streets because Garvey Avenue, a major thoroughfare is closed to permit installation of more than 200 food and vendor booths rented out by the World Journal. All of the vendors selling products are required to get a temporary business license and pay sales taxes.
While Monterey Park and neighboring Alhambra have been marking the Lunar New Year for about 20 years, many other cities, such as San Gabriel and Temple City are now joining in on the celebration.
San Gabriel had its first celebration last week, a reflection of the changing demographics of the historic Califorina City. While some events sometimes have difficulty getting major sponsors to foot the cost of putting on the event, there is no shortage of vendors who sell, food, a multitude of products ranging from colorful souvenirs to household products.
Meanawhile, hotels, shopping centers and casinos throughout California and Nevada are staging their own Chinese New Year celebrations to draw free spending vistors.