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Lunar New Year Tet Festival Celebrates Vietnamese Heritage

Lunar New Year Tet Festival Celebrates Vietnamese Heritage

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10th Annual Tet Festival

When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday

Where: Mira Mesa Community Park at 575 New Salem St.

Admission: Free

San Diego's Vietnamese community is welcoming the Lunar New Year with the annual Tet Festival in Mira Mesa this weekend.

This is the 10th year the Vietnamese-American Youth Alliance has organized the event, San Diego's longest running Tet Festival, which celebrates one of the most important holidays for the Vietnamese people.

The festival is also the second largest Tet festival in the U.S. after the Orange County festival.

"To be around and going strong after 10 years is a testament to VAYA's core mission, which is empowering youth to be involved in their communities," the group's president, Andy Nguyen, said. "This has been what VAYA is all about and I'm proud to see it continue to prosper."

San Diego County is home to about 44,000 residents who identify themselves as Vietnamese, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Board member Alexander Nguyen said the festival was created by a group of young people. (He is not related to Andy Nguyen.)

"It started with a group of students who wanted to create a huge festival for the community," Nguyen told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday. "They looked at the Orange County festival and wanted something similar."

This year's festival ushers in the year of the goat, and it marks two notable anniversaries for the community.

Nguyen said the festival will be observing the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the 45th anniversary of the Hue Massacre, which is considered one of the bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. The anniversaries prompted the group to make the theme of this year's festival, "Spring of Nostalgia."

"We want to look at what led to the Vietnamese diaspora, and we want to teach young Vietnamese-Americans about the start of the Vietnamese community in San Diego," Nguyen said.

The festival features a revamped cultural village that tells the story of Vietnamese life in America, carnival rides, Vietnamese food, lion dancing, musicians and a pageant.

San Diego is host to two large Tet festivals. The Little Saigon San Diego Foundation held its third annual Tet Festival at Qualcomm stadium last weekend.

Lunar New Year, which begins Thursday and follows the cycles of the moon, is also celebrated by other ethnicities including Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

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