East Portland ‘Asian New Year in the Park’ resumes

INCLUDES LIVE-ACTION VIDEO | Dreary weather didn’t keep lots of people from enjoying all that this now-traditional outer East Portland festival offered …

Slipping and slogging on soggy turf in Glenhaven Park, in the Madison South neighborhood, attendees of the “Asian New Year in the Park” festival look to be having a wonderful afternoon.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

When organizers of the 2022 Cambodian Lao Thai Burmese New Year in the Park (NYP) announced, “Our event is scheduled to start on April 30 at 10 a.m. rain or shine!” They were true to their word.

That morning, and in waves throughout the day, torrential rainstorms swept over Glenhaven Park, on NE 82nd Avenue of Roses just north of McDaniel High School. But, the festival went on.

At the main information booths, showing one of their event T-shirts, is Yavmeen Bounnam.

At this year’s NYP celebration, dancers slosh and slide while dancing to music provided by live singers.

Although the conditions were less than ideal, smiles abounded on the faces of visitors and participants, many seeming oblivious to squishing sound made by feet when walking on the mushy sod in the festival area.

As we learned from the festival’s founder, Saron Khut, at their first event, held in 2016, the mission of NYP is to foster greater understanding and appreciation among various Southeast Asian and greater Portland communities.

Happy for the event to return is NYP Co-chair Coua Xiong.

“This is a special and unique festival – in that it was created by the community that it serves,” pointed out Co-chair Coua Xiong.

“Our all-volunteer planning community members come together each year to put on this New Year’s Holiday – one  that is shared among several Southeast Asian communities, including Thai, Lao, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and other minority groups,” Xiong told East Portland News.

See what it was like to attend this year’s Cambodian Lao Thai Burmese New Year in the Park by watching this video presentation:

“This also celebrates our solidarity, here in the United States,” Xiong explained. “This is the only event, the only celebration that we know of – nationwide – at which our diverse communities are coming together to celebrate our common holiday.

“Which is wonderful, because our native countries have a history of conflict with each other,” she added ruefully.

Serving up a delicious plate is Ginger Grill Cambodian Food cook Pong Purris.

After getting their lunches from some of the many food vendors, families take shelter from the rain under a massive tent, and dine together at tables.

Happy to bee at this year’s NYP, and relieved that the rain had stopped, are these folks from the Phooj Ywg Zoo Boutique.

“The best thing about the NYP Festival this year is that we’re having it!” exclaimed Xiong. “That’s it, absolutely – especially because the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Asian community to lose a lot of joy. There’s been a disconnect, as people have sheltered and been separated.

“That’s why, no matter the weather, this huge celebration is one to which our community looks forward, where we can celebrate together in one space,” concluded Xiong.

On our Front Page: Kenneth Htet holds a wooden, hand turned “offering vessel”, commonly used by Buddhist monks who went to Karen village communities, and accepting gifts of food.

© 2022 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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