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Celebrating Lunar New Year following mass shooting in Monterey Park

lunar new year celebrations
Posted at 4:08 PM, Jan 23, 2023

A day of festivities and education.

The Lunar New Year was celebrated at South Mountain Community College, just a day after tragedy struck in California.

A mass shooting in Monterey Park left 11 dead and at least 10 injured, amid a weekend of celebration.

For many hearts continued to feel heavy and those affected by the tragedy were top of mind for those on the South Mountain Community College campus.

Students and faculty celebrated the Lunar New Year and educated folks about the culture.

"This is a good luck lantern," Marianne Smith, a South Mountain Community College faculty member, could be heard telling students.

Oliver Tagura was among the students picking one of these up.

"If you put it on top of, like, a door or a window, it's supposed to bring you good luck for the year," he told ABC15.

Qingqing Ye, a faculty member at South Mountain Community College, says seeing his culture being celebrated brings him joy.

"I feel honored. I'm originally from China," Ye told ABC15.

He says he feels seen and appreciated.

"Every year we have different animals and different symbols for what we are expecting for the new year. This year is rabbit, and I believe next year is dragon," Ye explained.

Irene Gaither is from Indonesia.

She says seeing this event floods her with memories.

"Grandma would give you a little envelope. A red envelope with a dollar bill on it. The meaning behind it is for good fortune that you will be working hard to earn this money," she added.

Celebrations here were definitely top of mind.

"We're making up the rabbit masks. Those are mandarin oranges, and they're supposed to be good luck," Smith said.

Though it was evident folks there couldn't help but think of those affected in the tragic mass shooting in Monterey Park, California.

"I feel really saddened. I hope our government could do something to reduce these incidents and I hope our whole community can support all those families who lose their beloved ones," Ye told ABC15.

Those we talked to say it's events like these that restore hope amid tragedy.

"(We're) embracing….embracing all of our community," Gaither told ABC15.