By Gracelynne West
[Editor’s Note: The following was written by Gracelynne West, an intern at the Little Saigon Foundation, for the August 2011 issue of City Heights Life, a monthly newspaper published by Price Charities.]
Imagine 6,000 silk lanterns brightening up El Cajon Boulevard this summer while thousands of visitors enjoy carnival rides and non-stop entertainment. The decorative display will mark the Second Annual San Diego Lantern Festival and Street Fair on Aug. 26 through Aug. 28 in the Little Saigon District in City Heights. The event will take place on El Cajon Boulevard in and around Hoover High School.
Festival goers will be greeted by a large entry way filled with lanterns. Other attractions include a street fair (Saturday and Sunday), a martial arts competition, three nights of lion dance and lantern parades, multicultural entertainment, Asian cuisine, break dancing competitions, live performances and a beer garden. The Lantern Festival will also host the first-ever Miss Asia San Diego 2011 Pageant (Saturday).
The event, organized by the Little Saigon Foundation, seeks to bring together residents, community organizations, local businesses, students and visitors from throughout Southern California for a safe and fun cultural experience. This year, organizers expect 20,000 to 30,000 people to attend.
The Lantern Festival is an ancient Vietnamese tradition that dates back more than 2,000 years to legends of the Han Dynasty. Although the tradition has not changed much in the past two millennia, the San Diego Lantern Festival is a unique celebration that showcases the local Vietnamese culture in the urban beat of City Heights.
This year’s theme is “Light up San Diego.” The goal is to brighten the Little Saigon District and bring visitors from all over the county to experience an ancient tradition with a modern twist. The Lantern Festival showcases City Heights as one of the most diverse communities in San Diego.
The multicultural family event is part of the Little Saigon Foundation’s ongoing effort to revitalize the six-block stretch of El Cajon Boulevard between Euclid and Highland avenues. The foundation has been working for two years to brand this area as the Little Saigon District.