My little 3-years old niece have been on the San Diego Tribune today. Very cute… She was spot when feeding the dragon a dollar bill.
The following is the content of SD Tribute Sunday ‘s front page from Elizabeth Fitzsimons
February 11, 2007
MISSION VALLEY – The children plugged their ears in anticipation as the crowd edged closer to the hanging strands of 360,000 firecrackers.
Then the fuses were lighted, sparks flew, and noise and smoke pushed the crowd back to where the air was fresh and people could hear each other’s shouts.
As a dragon went through the crowd at the Tet Festival at Qualcomm Stadium yesterday, Emily Tran fed it a dollar bill.
When the last firecracker blew, everyone who had packed the festival grounds at Qualcomm Stadium yesterday cheered. The celebration of Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, had begun.
The new year actually begins Feb. 18. But the Vietnamese American Youth Alliance, organizer of the San Diego Tet Festival 2007, planned the event for a week earlier to book the best entertainment acts.
Last year’s festival drew about 40,000 people. This year, 60,000 are expected over its three days. The festival, which began Friday, continues today.
“This is our biggest event,” alliance spokesman Larry Tran said. “The money we create from this festival we bring towards other events later on,” such as scholarships, health clinics for adults and free music concerts.
Community leaders and elected officials attended yesterday’s opening ceremony, and San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne took advantage of the captive audience to make a hiring pitch for officers and dispatchers.
In the crowd were older men in crisply pressed uniforms from their days in the South Vietnamese military. There also were young women in traditional ao dai tunics, their long hair tucked neatly into their headdresses.
During Tet’s three-day celebration, families gather and honor their ancestors, eat special foods and look forward to a better year.
This year, the festival features a re-creation of a Vietnamese village. There, Nam Nguyen welcomes visitors to a thatched house, where inside he set up his altar table and couch, which had been crafted from wood 100 years ago in Vietnam.
The crowd reacted at the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival when 360,000 firecrackers went off at Qualcomm Stadium yesterday.
Nguyen was 20 when he and his family escaped the Mekong Delta and were taken to Guam and then Camp Pendleton with other refugees.
“I came in 1975 and I haven’t been back there yet,” Nguyen said. “But I still remember my country.”
For Nguyen, Tet brings back many memories. Some are sweet, some painful.
He said the same was true for many older Vietnamese-Americans who had to leave loved ones behind when they fled their homeland.
To help preserve his culture, he founded a nonprofit group, Lac Viet Culture Center, which works with young people. “With the younger generation, sometimes they don’t know the meaning,” Nguyen said.
Nearby, bending over a low table, Darian Dong Hoc dipped a brush in black Chinese ink and carefully dragged its bristles across a yellow sheet of paper.
He was writing a visitor’s name, using a style he called “W.E. calligraphy,” a marrying of Western and Eastern cultures.
“I have learned by myself and I wrote a book,” said Hoc, who came from San Jose for the festival.
He turned the pages of a glossy book in Vietnamese and pointed to his work. Hoc is compiling a similar book in English and is reproducing all the artwork, this time with English characters instead of Vietnamese.
Some visitors had no personal ties to Vietnam pulling them to the festival. Glenn and Ruth Preston, a retired couple from Del Mar, read about the event and were curious.
They ate kebabs and pastries, and Ruth Preston bought some necklaces for her grandchildren – beetles in plastic hung on a red string, a sure kid-pleaser – and headed for the carnival games.
“How are you at shooting?” Preston asked her husband. “Get me one of those big bears.”