KhemeraTimes: El Dorado Brings Out The Cambodian Community Bright Side (2007)

El Dorado Brings Out The Cambodian Community Bright Side

By: Borann Heam
Staff Writer

Cambodia Town, CA – Every year, the Cambodian Coordinating Council (Cam-CC) organizes the biggest Cambodian New Year Celebration in Long Beach, and this year was another huge success.

Blame it on Cam-CC for giving us the Cambodian New Year Parade along Anaheim Street and the Cambodian New Year Celebration at El Dorado Regional Park: Long Beach is officially becoming Cambodians’ favorite new capital.

On Saturday, April 7th, more than 14,000 people packed along Anaheim Street, the heart of Cambodian Community called Cambodia Town, in Long Beach to celebrate the Third Annual Cambodian New Year Parade. The entire day was filled with unique cultural showcases of colorful floats, dances, musicians, cyclos, and performances. With nearly 100 organizations participating in the parade, this year’s parade was indeed the best by far.

And then just when you thought that you’ve seen it all, Cam-CC continues to amazes. On Saturday, April 21st, over 20,000 people packed El Dorado Regional Park, Area III, for another Cambodian New Year celebration. For a clean $20, admission to this family-oriented event was paid for, in advance, because tickets were available for sale at numerous Cambodian businesses along Anaheim Street.

The celebration at El Dorado was an entire day event which includes religious ceremonies, traditional Khmer games, and kids’ games such as: face painting and jumpers, and various stage performances, cultural food, and a live band with famous Khmer singers performing throughout the day. Furthermore, there was also traditional Cambodian play known as Lakourn Bassak and traditional impromptu duet called Ayai, which was performed for the very first time in the park.

“The park was fun,” said Sundy Ven, a Long Beach resident. “After the rain [the previous day], the dirt settled into the ground and it was not as dusty as last year. Some parts were muddy, but pretty much
it was still a nice walk in the park. There were a lot more fun games and activities this year. The stage performance was great to watch. I really like the Hanuman [Monkey dances], those little boys were so good, and I would love to watch them again. I had a good time.”

New Year celebration at El Dorado brings everyone together. In fact, there were even some visitors from different cities such as: Stockton, Fresno, Phoenix, Oakland, Boston, and as far as Phnom Penh.

“I came to this event several years ago,” said Sydney Oam, visiting from Oakland. “Last year, my entire family came from Northern California.” When asked about his favorite part of visiting the
celebration, he jokingly replied: “I enjoyed meeting people: old and new ones. The one thing I enjoyed the most is probably the fashion show; pretty Khmer girls in beautiful outfits. I will definitely come back.”

With more food and information vendors this year than the previous years, there was definitely something for everyone. In addition, there were also more volunteers this year than the previous years. Wearing
distinctively bright green tee-shirt, over 300 volunteers made sure that the entire event ran smoothly. As apart of their assignment, some volunteers helped with traffic, parking, program, and performances. Overall, the volunteers, who are mainly high students from different high schools in Long Beach, were everywhere and anywhere.

“I was doing traffic,” said Rattanack Neth, a 16 years old sophomore at Polytechnic High School, “and it was fun.” “Besides getting my service learning hours for volunteering, I also get to meet new people. I had fun, and I’ll do it again next year.”

Next year, Cambodian New Year 2008, if you really think about it doesn’t seem that far away because time flies when you’re having fun.