The Laotian community of Merced filled Main Street with color, cheer, and holiday fun as they celebrated Lao New Year with residents, community leaders, and government representatives on Saturday, April 13. Coming together in Downtown Merced, the celebration works to shed light on the rich culture of the Laotian community in Merced who have called the area home for nearly 40 years. The daylong celebration is now in its second year after the festivities were discontinued for around three decades. The day’s festivities kicked ofF at 10:00 AM with Takbaht where community members gave food and alms to Buddhist monks, followed by a lunchtime feast hosted at Bangkok Thai on Main Street. At 1:00 PM a parade made its way from the Bangkok Thai restaurant to Bob Hart Square and featured floats and local organizations highlighting the New Year’s celebration and culture. As members of the community made their way along the parade route, water was thrown back and forth between the crowd and the floats to cleanse one another of bad luck and ensure that the upcoming year was filled with good luck. Following the Lao New Year parade, Laotian and Merced leaders spoke to those in attendance, held a traditional prayer ceremony, and emphasized their culture through a series of dance performance in front of Bob Hart Square. The event was made possible thanks to the help and collaboration of the Lao Association, UC Merced, Tsunami Collaborations, Merced Mayor Mike Murphy, the Merced County Office of Education, the Merced Irrigation District, and Assemblymember Adam Gray.