Nation's Largest Pan Asian Street Celebration Draws 100,000 Attendees
SAN FRANCISCO - Approximately 100,000 people of all ages and races overflowed Larkin Street from McAllister to Ellis Streets to enjoy the sunshine and celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in San Francisco on May 16.
The fifth annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration — the largest gathering of Asian Pacific Americans in the nation — featured a muay Thai kickboxing ring, delicious pan Asian cuisine, J-cars, tons of arts and crafts booths, Asian American musical artists, martial arts, a cultural procession, carnival rides and games, and more.
Presented by California Pacific Medical Center and Subaru, the 5th Annual Asian Heritage Street Celebration took place in San Francisco’s Civic Center in front of the Asian Art Museum, leading up to the Little Saigon District.
The city’s three Asian American Supervisors Carmen Chu, Eric Mar, and President of the Board of Supervisors David Chiu, kicked off the street fair with warm wishes and greetings for fairgoers at the Asian Art Museum stage. Chiu told the crowd it was fitting that the nation’s largest Asian street celebration took place in the city because San Francisco is “the heart of our country’s Asian American community.”
Proud San Francisco Unified School District Awards parents surrounded the Little Saigon Stage, in the early afternoon with camcorders and digital cameras to snap footage of their children during the fair’s annual SFUSD Student Awards Ceremony. For excellence in nutrition and fitness, forty-nine students received glass plaques designed by Dave San Pedro and created by Art Crystal, Ltd. The ceremony was part of the annual SFUSD Student Awards Program that the AHSC has hosted annually to recognize the accomplishments of students who are of Asian Pacific Islander heritage in categories not typically celebrated.
Approximately 160 people took advantage of the free hepatitis B screenings presented by California Pacific Medical Center and the San Francisco Hep B Free campaign.
“In the Bay Area, we are so fortunate to have such a rich diversity of Asian cultures and the street celebration gives us the chance to enjoy them all,” said Paula Lykins, community relations manager of California Pacific Medical Center.
Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and ABC7 anchor Alan Wang spoke at the Asian Art Museum Stage about the importance of getting screened for hepatitis B. Asian Pacific Islanders have the highest rate of the disease compared to any ethnic group, and it is estimated that 1 in 10 people in the API community have an undiagnosed infection. Both Ma and Wang have chronic hepatitis B and were infected at birth. Wang wore a jade ribbon during his 5pm, 6pm and 11pm newscast that evening, showing his support of hepatitis B awareness and is one of the first Asian American newscasters nationwide to do so.
In the late afternoon, the Asian Art Museum stage became a dance floor, as a crowd formed in front of the stage, bobbing their heads, swaying their hips and arms while jamming to the electric performance by Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born and wife Joyo Velarde.
“The crowd and event was fantastic!” exclaimed Lyrics Born, after his performance. “There aren’t many Asians in the arts so it is important for others to see arts like myself out there performing to change that.”
The AHSC, organized by the AsianWeek Foundation, is the only outdoor event in the Bay Area to rotate its location each year in order to showcase that APIs reside in all San Francisco neighborhoods. The first Celebration highlighted the Japanese community in Japantown, the second showcased the Chinese on Irving Street in the Sunset District, the third paid homage to the large Filipino community in the South of Market area, last year the fair returned to Japantown and this year the fair celebrated the large Vietnamese community in the city’s Little Saigon neighborhood.
“I am very excited and proud that the Vietnamese community that the AsianWeek Foundation chose to host their event in Little Saigon This year. Everyone knows that there is a Chinatown and Japantown, but not many know about Little Saigon for the Vietnamese community,” said Hang Le To, Program Director/The Founder of Au Co Cultural & Leadership Youth Team for the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center.
This year’s sponsors include California Pacific Medical Center, Subaru, Brown and Toland Physicians, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente, Visa, AT&T, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Company, San Francisco Chronicle, CBS 5/CW 44 Bay Area, AsianWeek, Northern California Carpenters Regional Council, BART, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.