By: Borann Heam
Cambodia Town, CA – For the Cambodian New Year Parade, the third time is a charm.
On Saturday, April 7th, more than 14,000 people packed along Anaheim Street in Long Beach to celebrate the Third Annual Cambodian New Year Parade, organized by the Cambodian Coordinating Councils (Cam-CC).
Compared to the previous two years (2005 and 2006), organizers say this year was by far the best parade they have organized.
“The parade was fantastic,” said Richer San, who is the Parade Chairman. “This year we had more participants, more volunteers, and more spectators. Absolutely, this year was the best parade that we have put together.”
For the Event Coordinator, Nancy Prerk, this is the first year she’s organizing and seeing the parade at the same time.
“The parade was beautiful,” she said, surprisingly. “Everyone did an amazing job.”
One of the more spectacular floats during the parade was of course the final float, built by Cambodia Town, Inc., which depicts King Jayavarman VII, who was played by a Long Beach resident, Chad Sammeth, and his royal court of queens, princesses, and soldiers from the 12th Century of Angkor. For this particular float, over 20 women were dressed in golden costumes, with necklaces and bracelets, whereas all of the men were tattooed and shirtless, with spears, bow and arrows, symbolizing the King’s royal army.
“I had the best seat in the house,” said the King. “Thank you to everyone that came out and taking the time out of their busy schedule to help out.”
The people helping out were of course volunteers. Some wearing distinctively bright green tee-shirts, the volunteers played a critical in the success of the parade.
Volunteers, after all, are the backbone of the parade, according to Kim Leang Say, the Volunteer Coordinator. “The volunteers are the most important part of the parade,” said Kim Leang. “A majority of them were high school students, who participated in the parade line-up, street barricade, set-up; some even walked in the actual parade as cyclo riders and royal soldiers.”
“The volunteers did a great job,” said An Khun, the Assistant Event Coordinator. “We had over 100 volunteers this year. We even improved on the clean up.”
Assisting with some of the clean up were volunteers like Jimmy Pheng, 14, and his friends. For Jimmy, the parade was his first as a volunteer, and it won’t be his last.
“I got to learn a lot about the Cambodian culture,” he said, speaking of his experience. “I got free stuff and I get to help out the community. I will come back next year.”
And for next year everyone can look forward to more excitement and festivities in the parade. But for now, it would only seem appropriate if everyone partied like it’s the 12th Century in Angkor, in honor of King Jayavarman VII.