On one of the first truly warm, beautiful days of Spring, the City of South Pasadena and the South Pasadena Chinese-American Club held the second annual celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Garfield Park on Saturday May 13. This second outing proved to be even more popular and well attended than last year’s event and only promises to grow. South Pasadenans and crowds from our neighboring cities enjoyed shopping and eating while watching the diverse and vibrant entertainment from traditional hula and Tahitian dance to Japanese Taiko drumming, to traditional Korean, Cambodian and Bollywood dancers, Vietnamese musicians and Chinese lion dancers!
The morning kicked off with Mistress of Ceremonies, SPCC Board of Directors member Katy Nielsen, introducing and thanking all of the attending dignitaries which included Mayor Jon Primuth, City Manager Armine Chaparyan, City Councilmembers Michael Cacciotti, Janet Braun, and Evelyn Zneimer, Former Mayor Robert Joe, Police Lieutenant Shannon Robledo and members of the SPPD, Fire Chief Paul Riddle, Division Chief Mark Dondanville and members of SPFD, along with Congresswoman Judy Chu, Assemblyman Mike Fong, Senator Portantino Representative Erica Nam and PCC Trustee Kristine Kwong.
SPCC President Yuki Cutcheon, who brought the idea of this event to the city last year and was recently awarded Judy Chu’s Congressional Woman of the Year Award for South Pasadena, thanked the crowd and introduced Mayor Jon Primuth who proceeded to welcome revelers with a Mother’s Day song sung in Mandarin. Yes, our Mayor is fluent in Mandarin and is a good singer to boot!
The Mayor then introduced Congresswoman Judy Chu who gave a special shout out to Cutcheon for spearheading the event and congratulated her once again on receiving Congressional Woman of the Year. Chu went on to say, “I appreciate an event like this to reflect on where we are and where we need to go – coming off of three years of combating anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, 11,500 that have occurred over this time period – it’s important for us to speak out against this. And it’s also important for us to come together and celebrate the contributions of the AAPI community – to come together and be unified. Thank you for uplifting Asian Pacific Islanders in this region and making sure we can celebrate the festivities that make our culture whole.”
Assemblyman Fong also addressed the crowd and expressed his appreciation for the event and all the event’s organizers saying, “today we celebrate unity, and diversity, and strength in our community – it’s events like this that allows the community to come together and celebrate the contribution of Asian Americans to our city, our region and to our greater nation.”
The food was fantastic with everything from homemade spam musubi to Filipino lumpia and adobo, Vietnamese pandan coconut waffles, classics from China like bing fen and more familiar fair like orange chicken, Indian samosas, guava and lychee drinks and so much more.
There were some fun and vibrant vendors as well like playwright and South Pasadenan, Paul Kikuchi of “Underachieving Asian”, his tongue-in-cheek company that sells t-shirts and hoodies that was born out of a play he wrote. It’s a humorous take on how underachieving he feels in his Asian family that is full of dentists, doctors and lawyers. He said his parents are actually very supportive of his artistic endeavors as well as those of his sister who is a professional musician with LA Opera. “This is my second year as a vendor at the AAPI event and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the community come together to celebrate and recognize our culture,” said Kikuchi.
Artisan Maryn Masumiya whose company Kawaii Clay Keepsakes creates fanciful magnets, earrings and other delightful clay designs expressed enthusiasm for the event saying, “I loved the performances, food, and everyone was so sweet and supportive.” She only wished the event had gone on even longer than the planned 3 hours.
Cutcheon was grateful saying, “SPCC appreciates the continued support and partnership from Mayor Primuth, City Manager Chaparyan, South Pasadena City Council, and SPPD and SPFD. South Pasadena is truly an amazing community of diversity and strength. SPCC is so thankful to have the city as invested in an AAPI celebration event as SPCC is.”
It was a beautiful day for diversity and culture appreciation in our community that will hopefully continue to grow with each year. Happy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month!