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Where EAST meets the Northwest

CULTURAL CELEBRATION. New Year in the Park, a free family-friendly celebration of the Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Burmese New Year, took place at Glenhaven Park on a sunny Saturday in late April. The event featured traditional music, cultural dance (pictured), Asian cuisine, items for sale, and more. Some people attended for a couple hours while others partied all day. (AR Photos/Jan Landis)

From The Asian Reporter, V33, #5 (May 1, 2023), pages 9 & 13.


Thousands attend 2023 New Year in the Park

By Jody Lim

The Asian Reporter

While waiting at the red light to turn west onto N.E. Siskiyou Street from 82nd Avenue, I could smell the celebration. On a sunny spring day that reached at least 80°, thousands of people attended the 2023 New Year in the Park in northeast Portland over the weekend.

Just beyond the trees lining Glenhaven Park were too many tents to counts. Small pop-up tents shaded businesses, restaurants, and organizations. Two huge tents covered the performance stage and attendees.

At least 10 restaurants, such as Burmese Delight, Mekong Bistro, Thip Khoa, Sandy’s Myanmar Cuisine, and Ding Tea PDX, sold fried rice, papaya salad, skewers, micola bowls, pad see ew, crazy wings & rice, Burmese tea, lotus cookies, fried bananas, and much more. Festival-goers patiently waited in line for their delightfully delicious cuisine.

Outreach booths included organizations — the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), and the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon (CACO) — as well businesses and government agencies — the Multnomah County Library, DHS’s API Net, the Oregon Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Unit, the OHSU BEFAST program, and the Multnomah County Circuit Court, among others. Anyone seeking information could find someone willing to provide helpful pamphlets and resources.

Plenty of freebies were also available — candy, pens, buttons, calendars, flyers, bookmarks, and band-aids. The BEFAST (Balance. Eyes. Face. Arm. Speech. Time.) booth educated attendees who stopped by about the signs to be aware of in case someone is experiencing a stroke. The Civil Rights Unit distributed information about its Stand Against Hate program.

Many vendors, including one from up north in Bellevue, Washington, offered sashes, hats, small sculptures, handbags, wallets, scrunchies, shampoo, lotion, jewelry, and more for sale. Youth were invited to participate in arts and crafts at the New Year in the Park table.

The booths, which surrounded the tall performance tents, were bustling. I noticed smiles everywhere. Celebration organizers were also selling colorful New Year in the Park t-shirts for only $20 as a fundraiser.

And, of course, there were performers and speakers onstage during the daylong festival. Groups, individuals, and families representing Lao, Myanmar, Thai, Iu Mien, Hmong, Kachin, Zomi, and Karen communities and cultures graced the stage.

Anyone who also wanted to enjoy some of the amenities at the park — the play structures, skate park, or just shade from the trees — could find what they needed. Organizers also set up three volleyball courts in the grass for attendees to use.

Attending New Year in the Park was a great way to welcome the upcoming Asian Heritage Month. Some people attended for a couple hours while others were there all day. Remember to mark your calendar for late April for the 2024 celebration.

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