!By Vic Morales
             Exclusive to

The usually traffic—congested Intersection at Garvey and Garfield avenues in Monterey Park was transformed into an open—air street gala this weekend in celebration of the Lantern Festival, marking the end of the Chinese end of the Chinese Lunar New Year festivities, Traditional red rice—paper lanterns hung on signal lights and fore-telling messages written in elegant calligraphy were placed over street signs as lion and  dragon dance groups drummed their way  through the thick crowds estimated at a combined 70.000. Some, like Ken Tarn came from as far away like Irvine. ‘‘It’s a good time to spend with your family and honor your ancestors, said Tarn, while drinking the traditional Chinese dessert drink poba.
      The spring-like weather was no doubt a motive for the big turnout. inviting children, adults and elderly to rejoice under the traditional lanterns that symbolically light the path for a happy and prosperous new year for festival guests and their ancestors -
      Festivities got underway Saturday afternoon and lasted through early evening Sunday. Three blocks east of the inter-section were dedicated to the event accommodating pony rides, carnival —style games. Inflatable jumpers, food court, stage and merchant booths.
     The food court’s array of cuisine spanned from Chinese style BBQ lamb to the all—American hot dog and reflected the multi—cultural crowd that attended. ‘‘I want to know about the people who I live with and work with. Thus is some-thing special to them (Asian Ameri-cans) and I want to be included,” said Hope Ramos from Pasadena who was invited by her co-worker.
     The stage provided entertain-ment showcasing Chinese heri-tage including music, dance groups. and acrobats. The karaoke contest was popular among the teenage and adult event-goers seated comfortably in the shade. And ecstatic children romped in the variety of’ attractions designed for them, including a 20-foot slide arid 30—foot inflatable climbing mountain.
     Merchants offered prod-ucts as basic as herbal remedies to the latest in computer acces-sories such as CD-RW/DVD) disk drives. Approximately 400,000 firecrackers were ignited in the square. producing long - lasting bursts of thunder-ous and celebratory zeal.
     With  a sizeable Asian population, Monterey Park has marked its place as the site of the premier Lantern Festival throughout the San Gabriel Valley, securing major spon-sors like Wells Fargo Bank and the American Red Cross.
     Attendees basked in the harmonious vibe that exempli-fied the proverb, ‘gung hey fa choy.’ A rough translation is, may you prosper and accomplish everything you want.

** You are courteously invited to exhibit your products/services in this
    Asian Lantern Festival/EXPO with 70,000 attendees.


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