Cambodians in Long Beach celebrated the New Year earlier this month with a celebration aimed at helping a younger generation connect with its home culture.
The seventh annual cultural parade, the largest held in the city to date, opened with a “royal wishing dance” to help usher in the Year of the Rabbit. The opening dance was followed by a long procession of Apsara and other traditional dancers, grand marshals, the Long Beach police, and others, including the mayor of Long Beach.
The parade made its way down Anaheim Street, a main thoroughfare of the Californian city and home to Cambodia Town, a strip of boulevard dedicated to the tens of thousands of Cambodians who have settled here.
The Cambodian Coordinating Council, which hosted the parade, also held a celebration at El Dorado Park, the largest in the country, among other celebrations.
Sopheak Heng, a volunteer who helped prepare the ceremony, said the parade was a demonstration of Cambodians in the US “trying hard to preserve the culture of our nation.”
“We never forget this,” he said. “But at the same time, we need more help from the communities to make it better. If we only have ideas and lack contributions from people, it won’t work. And if we have people to help but lack finance, it won’t work either. Thus, it is very challenging to prepare such event.”
Sothy Soun, who came out to watch the parade, said he hoped it will continue every year.
“Even though I cannot go to Cambodia to celebrate Khmer New Year, I can still enjoy it here,” he said. “I live here alone away from my parents. I miss home and I feel grief. So this helps me feel less homesick. It’s better than nothing.”