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Lao New Year colors Main Street with culture, tradition


Hundreds of excited locals, as well as honored guests from afar, gathered in downtown Merced for the fifth annual Lao New Year last weekend.

A section of Main Street near Martin Luther King Jr. Way and the parking lot of the popular Bangkok Thai Restaurant were cleared of normal traffic and filled with a variety of festive events, décor and food vendors. It was a fun, beautiful, and culturally enlightening experience that acts a great example of what makes Merced and its people great.

“It is an incredible opportunity that we get to continue this tradition and spreading our Lao culture,” said Sue Emanivong, who was the lead organizer of the event.

One of the vendors present at the event was a local publisher, author, as well as illustrator. Nor Sanavongsay, along with family members, represented Sahtu Press.

“I help Lao authors get their stories published through our publishing company,” he said. “Sometimes we just help them format/structure their stories, or if they want to publish with us, we help them it get ready for publication.”

Sanavongsay added, “This is our first time with a booth This is our second time here at the Merced Downtown Lao New Year Celebration festival, but this is our first time with a booth. And, we just love coming here and showing our culture to a broader audience.”

A variety of public officials as well as community pillars joined the daylong celebration, including this region’s State Assemblywoman Esmerelda Soria.

Said Soria, “This is a demonstration of why this is the best country in the world. … that we get to have events such as this where we can support and celebrate our Laotian community.”

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