San Francisco's Chinatown celebrates 1st Holiday Light Fest amid business struggles

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Tuesday, December 13, 2022
SF's Chinatown celebrates 1st Holiday Light Fest
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Chinatown Holiday Light Fest began Monday in San Francisco, where the streets are decorated with festive lights in hopes of attracting tourists.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco's Chinatown was hit particularly hard during the pandemic and business owners say they are still struggling.

Monday night though, for the first time ever, a holiday light celebration there. Chinatown Holiday Light Fest started Monday and goes the the end of the year.

The festive sounds of the Dragon in San Francisco's Chinatown could be heard Monday night.

But on this night it isn't just about those unique sounds.

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On this night, it's about the holiday lights hanging from many Chinatown businesses, something never seen before here.

"It is actually the first time we light up for Christmas in Chinatown," said Nancy Yu Law of the Chinatown History and Culture Association.

Frank Chui owns Hang Ah Tea Room which happens to be the oldest Dim Sum restaurant in America at 102 years.

Still though, Chui says his business and others in Chinatown are hurting due to a quiet Financial District and what he calls a lack of convention traffic.

"I think we're struggling the most in terms of within San Francisco. We basically have 10 to 20% of the regular office lunch and in terms of tourists visiting San Francisco, we're not even 50% of where we were back in 2019," said Chui.

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But there is optimism, and a holiday spirit mixed with the dragon and colorful lights funded by a $5,000 grant from Avenue Greenlight.

Initially, the thought was that 20 to 30 businesses would be interested in holiday lights.

"In three days, 150 merchants signed up for it and they all willing to decorate their store and make it pretty," says Yu Law.

"Come and do Chinatown and come and see the lights!" said Police Commissioner Larry Yee.

Business owners in Chinatown told us it has been tough going this year and they are hopeful that people will make the decision to come and holiday shop in their neighborhood, they'll see some lights if the chose to do so too.

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