On August 20, 2022, the nonprofit Friends of Little Saigon hosted the 11th Annual “Celebrate Little Saigon” event, bringing neighbors and visitors together to eat, drink, and celebrate Vietnamese community and culture. This event was only one of many activities occurring in the Chinatown-International District (CID) on this particular Saturday; it was coordinated in conjunction with CID Block Party, Hai Japantown, CID Food Walk, and SAAFF Summer Cinema. Streets across the CID were filled to the brim with people hopping from one event after another, helping create a day-long vibrant and lively atmosphere.
Valerie Tran, who leads Friends of Little Saigon, shared with the IE why it was important for the neighborhood to host this event:
“This festival is meant to celebrate the Vietnamese community, and celebrate the culture through food, entertainment, and music. It’s a way to bring people back to the neighborhood here; it’s been a really rough couple of years during the pandemic. We’re always in awe of how many people show up – despite having been isolated.”
A striking street mural of blue, green, and orange highlighted both the festival boundaries and S King St, an important neighborhood connection to Chinatown. Zooming in on the colorful patterns, one would see motifs of Plumeria (Hoa sứ), Madagascar Periwinkle (dừa cạn), and Morning Glory (hoa rau) – three flora found in Vietnam. The vibrancy of this street art also serves another purpose – as a traffic calming measure – that will hopefully slow vehicles down in this intersection where there is both a high school and a residential building. The mural served as the prominent centerpiece of “Celebrate Little Saigon” and will continue to brightly light this area of this neighborhood.
All photos by Carmen Hom.