By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
This weekend residents from Garden Grove and Westminster, along with thousands of Vietnamese visitors will crowd Garden Grove Park for the 30th annual Tet Festival.
The Tet Festival of Southern California is recognized as the world’s largest outside of Vietnam, bringing in over 100,000 visitors, according to the event’s website. Attendees should expect a variety of traditional foods, live entertainment, games and other Vietnamese customs celebrating the New Year.
The festival begins Friday and ends Sunday..
This year, the Union of Vietnamese Student Association, who host the event, chose the theme “Spring of Dreams,” to celebrate 30 years of sharing and celebrating Vietnamese culture in Orange County, Billy Le, External Vice President of UVSA said.
“Our goal is to bring back memories for the old and young of what Vietnam is like. To keep our culture alive in America” Le said.
Traditional Vietnamese weddings, decorations illustrating three symbolic regions of Vietnam and thousands of firecrackers will kick off the festival on Friday afternoon. Also on Friday, the Miss Vietnam of Southern California, “Hoa Khôi Liên Trường,” will feature women from Orange and Los Angeles County competing to win scholarships.
Le said his hopes are that visitors from within the community will learn more about the culture and Vietnamese Zodiac.
The lunar calendar is used in both Chinese and Vietnamese cultures and is divided into 12 segments with an animal character for each segment. This year is special because there are two animals assigned to it, the rabbit, observed by the Chinese and the cat, observed by the Vietnamese.
“Tet means a new beginning, where you can start over and hope for the best,” Le said.
Although the Tet festival is a celebration, it also takes on a humanitarian role in Garden Grove. Around 400 students from 12 organizations run and organize the festivities and the UVSA donates 50 percent of its profit from the festival back to the community, according to Le.
Since 2002, UVSA has donated more than $800,000 back to more than 300 community organizations.
Garden Grove Park is located at 9301 Westminster Ave. in Garden Grove. Admission is $5 and is $4 for children under 4 feet tall. They only accept cash if you buy your ticket at the Park.
The festival hours are from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.
“Tet is a very festive event, so I ask for some understanding from the community members that live near the temples,” Councilmember Andrew Do said. “It’s like Mardis Gras for the Vietnamese.”
Tet is not only observed in Garden Grove, but the city of Westminster also hosts a smaller festival and a parade on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. The parade will take place between Magnolia Street and ends at Bishop Place.
The Westminster Tet celebration will take place at the same time as Garden Grove’s and is to be held in the parking area of the Westminster Mall between Sears and JC Penney from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Activities will include the lion dance, martial arts demonstrations and a beauty pageant.
Visit http://tetfestival.org/ for more information.