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Chinatown merchants group cancels Chinese New Year celebration

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    Members from Gee Yung performed the Dragon Dance as part of the Chinese lunar new year celebration held in downtown in Feb. 2013. Festivities included a “Night in Chinatown Street Festival” sponsored by the Chinatown Merchants Association.

The Chinatown Merchants Association has abruptly canceled Saturday’s “Night in Chinatown Festival and Parade” to celebrate the Year of the Dog due to lack of funding.

Gifford Chang of the Chinatown Merchants Association sent a letter Tuesday to all participating vendors, entertainers, sponsors and volunteers informing them of the cancellation.

In the letter, Chang said the non-profit organization has tried its best in the past several years to hold the popular annual festival and parade as expenses mounted.

“In previous years, there were Hawaii Tourism Authority and City and County grants that we got to offset increasing costs. However, such monies are not available today or if available come with restrictions and conditions which our organization does not meet,” Chang said.

He noted they were forced to increase vendor booth fees in the past two years to help offset expenses, which resulted in a significant drop in vendors.

“Without revenue, we reluctantly have to postpone this event until next year,” Chang added.

Saturday’s canceled festival had been scheduled to be held on Maunakea, Smith and Pauahi streets in Chinatown. The parade was also to be held that afternoon on Richards Street.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, a separate organization, will still hold its annual Chinese New Year’s celebration at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, 100 N. Beretania St. on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

More than 30 vendors including food and craft booths will be featured at the event. Live entertainment and lion dancing will also take place.

To ring in the Year of the Dog, the organization will also hold its first dog costume contest at 11 a.m. Saturday at the cultural plaza.

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