As Chinese New Year nears, annual block party suddenly canceled

Letter sent to merchants regarding cancellation. (Image: Chinatown Merchants Association)
Letter sent to merchants regarding cancellation. (Image: Chinatown Merchants Association)

CHINATOWN (HawaiiNewsNow) - As many gear up to celebrate Chinese New Year on Feb. 10, there will be one less event on the list of options to celebrate.

The Chinatown Merchants Association suddenly announced the cancellation of the annual 'Night in Chinatown' block party and parade Tuesday night.

The event was scheduled for Feb. 10, but the association said costs were simply too high to put on the event this year.

In a letter to vendors and participants, the association said, "The Night in Chinatown Festival and Parade has been a legacy event for the community and last year we barely squeaked by in paying our expenses ... We tried to ask merchants in Chinatown for donations, but support was weak, despite the fact that we advocate for all merchants in Chinatown on many controversial issues."

The letter also explained how grants, donations and funding just wasn't available this year.

"It was a heart-wrenching decision to make to cancel this event," said, Leonard Kam, of the Chinatown Merchants Association. "It breaks our heart. One of the joys for us, is walking down the street, watching people react to the parade."

This is the first time in several decades the block party and parade has been canceled.

"It's really precious, a lot of families come out and support it, bring their children, and they're so excited, to see the lions and dragons, and bands," Kam added.

The association says there's no finger pointing or blame as to why the event fell through, but they hope lawmakers will find a way to ease the financial crunch on local businesses and events.

"Our State of Hawaii legislatures need to understand that we need a business friendly environment. Our community needs to understand we need to support our businesses and Mom & Pop stores," the letter said.

Vendors will be refunded fees and deposits made for the event.

The merchants association is hoping to host the event again in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce will still be putting on its lion dancing event Friday night in Chinatown. In addition, other activities – such as a dog costume competition, food and other displays – will still happen throughout the day Friday and into Saturday at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza.

This story will be updated.

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