Pan-Asian New Year celebration continues

Find out why an outer East Portland park was again the location for this combined Cambodian, Lao, Thai, and Burmese “New Year in the Park” celebration …

The third annual Cambodian/Lao/Thai/Burmese New Year in the Park was underway in Glenhaven Park, in the Madison South neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Until 2014, Portland’s Cambodian, Laotian, Thai, and Burmese cultures – all of whom celebrate New Year every April, historically – held separate celebrations.

On April 29, for the third consecutive year, these different cultural groups came together in Glenhaven Park to celebrate their New Year traditions together.

About to perform the “Peacock Dance” are members of the Cambodian Dance Troupe of Oregon.

Having lived through the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, New Year in the Park founder Saron Khut fled to Portland and has been a business owner here for 35 years

“When we started, it was my dream to put an event like this together for our community,” Khut shared with East Portland News at the event.

Cambodian/Lao/Thai/Burmese New Year in the Park founder Saron Khut says seeing the cultures come together in celebration makes him feel joyous.

“Fortunately I met with the City of Portland Parks & Recreation that partnered with us; and now, three years later, together we’re putting on one of the biggest events of its kind in all of Portland.

“This is definitely a dream come true, for me,” Khut smiled and said.

Eight food vendors provide delicacies representing all of the Asian cultures celebrating New Year together in the park.

Cook Surachay Thongsongcha dances as he grills Satay Chicken – served at the booth set up by Vancouver, Washington, restaurant Talay Thai Cuisine.

“Now, today, the best part of this for me is seeing all the people come here of all the different countries, enjoying the day and having fun,” Khut grinned. All the different cultures coming together; that’s the beauty of all this event. When people different cultures come together, nothing is impossible.”

“Moan Sur” is performed by the Cambodian Dance Troupe.

Celebrants gather, as the “Procession of the Buddha” is about to begin.

In addition to providing a united New Year celebration for Portland’s Cambodian, Laotian, Thai, and Burmese cultures, another goal of the event continues to be showcasing the traditions of each of the participants for all, he said.

“We want people to come and join in, learn about our cultures, no matter their own ethnic heritage! So, no matter who you are, this is one day of the year when all people come together,” Khut explained.

“And, we’re hoping that, in years to come, even more people will come – and instead of feeling like an outsider or being intimidated, instead they will feel welcome and special here!” Khut concluded.

Many Asian-owned vendors offer goods for sale that are representative of their home countries.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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