via CAAI News Media
By Greg Mellen
LONG BEACH - Cambodians will celebrate the Year of the Tiger on Sunday when the 6th annual Cambodian New Year Parade sets off down Anaheim Street.
This year, it would have been more fitting had it been the Year of the Hare, which is 2011, as the parade coincides with Easter Sunday.
This year the parade is being staged several weeks before the actual Cambodian New Year date and the annual New Year celebration is being held on Saturday, April 10, so as not to conflict with the 36th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the weekend of April 17.
The actual three-day New Year celebration in Cambodia is April 14-16.
Such fine points should have little effect on the upbeat atmosphere of the popular event that has become a staple in the center of Cambodiatown.
Adding to the atmosphere for the first time will be a weekend carnival at the empty lot at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Anaheim Street, diagonally across from the parade terminus at MacArthur Park.
Last year, the post-parade celebration was held in the dusty lot, but this year it moves back to its traditional spot at the park.
Some of the proceeds from the carnival rides and activities will benefit the Cambodian Coordinating Council, which stages the parade and celebration.
John Edmond, chief of staff for Councilman Dee Andrews, in whose district the event is held, said the council office has worked closely with parade organizers to help them overcome the obstacles of previous years.
He said Andrews spoke with residents to allay concerns about the park celebration and the office brokered the deal with the carnival operator, who had a similar deal at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Unity Parade and Celebration.
"It's a new thing. We're trying to help them keep their costs under control," Edmond said.
Organizers ran into financial difficulties two years ago when they ran into unexpected costs for city services.
This year, however, all is well and Cam-CC spokesman Dan Durke said the parade has "a clean slate."
Otherwise the parade will be much like past years. Durke says there will be about 60 parade entries and VIPs.
There will also be three grand marshals: Sam Meas, from Massachusetts, who is running as a Republican for Congress against incumbent Niki Tsongas; Thary Ung, a local activist in a variety of social organizations and a member of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission; and Mary Blatz, the pastoral director at the Mt. Carmel Cambodian Catholic Church, who is active in a number of issues including deportation and health care as well as working in the community on the 2010 census count.
The post-parade celebration at the park will include entertainment until 4 p.m. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at Anaheim Street and Junipero Avenue.
The Cambodian New Year Celebration on April 10 at El Dorado Park Area III, 7550 E. Spring St., runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It features religious ceremonies, ethnic food, games and live entertainment including traditional Khmer performances and a band with popular Khmer singers.
Advance admission to the event is $23 per vehicle and $7 entrance fee to be paid to the city. The price is $10 more on the day of the event. Tickets will be available after March 8 at many Cambodian restaurants and businesses throughout Long Beach. See www.cam-cc.org for a complete list of locations.
greg.mellen@presstelegram .com 562-499-1291