Tet In Worcester

Going to this event was eye opening. It's not the first time I saw a big event replicating an Asian community in a convention center. But it is the first time I saw something like that done grassroots, for an Asian community by an Asian community. The other events I went to were corporate functions that had a Chinatown section or a New Year's celebration where there was a gate displayed.

I liked that the event came before the New Year. I felt like it got me in the New Year spirit. Often times it comes around to the actual date of Tet or Chinese New Year and I haven't done anything yet and I get all depressed about it. And then weeks later you celebrate with the parade. It's kind of why I scheduled my event in Jamaica Plain on January 30th. Which is closer to the real date, January 28th. And in fact I just did an event at the library today as well. But these are small compared to the giant event at the DCU in Worcester.

They had a Hockey game that was going on at the same time, and actually it was really easy for the ushers to tell who was going where if you know what I mean. But they paused suddenly at me. My face causes much confusion. Then they saw Noah and asked if it was the Vietnamese celebration I was going to.

Yes it was.


Now since last year was almost the Polar Vortex temperatures for the parade, I can totally see the benefit of having the celebration be indoors. However, being from Chinatown I also realized how spoiled I was to have the gate and the businesses and now even the parks as permanent decorations and backdrop to your festival.

I think even if Chinatown becomes 100% touristy (which is some people's fear) you will always have the gate and the parks.

But I wonder, do they parade on the street too or is there not enough of a cluster of Vietnamese businesses?

Well as you can see from the video we got Pho afterward and there was a small cluster. The Pho was fantastic. you could taste the blood from those rare cuts of beef. It is difficult to use really fresh ingredients in any section where rents are high. So it's hard in Chinatown... and even harder in Cambridge. Which is why I don't care if a restaurant at Harvard Square is full of Chinese people from China... it can still suck. And again, I don;t blame the chef. The technique is great. But what can you do with rents like that?

Luckily Chinatown's food is still good. But Worcester's Vietnamese food is definitely a level up.

But on the same street is a burnt out movie theater.

Now even in the Combat zone days you didn't see that. I mean there were a few cases of fires that smelled like arson. But then things got fixed. And again, a peep show theater is not run down. Not like a burnt out theater. I mean I could see why you would want to bring the celebration of Tet to another part of town. Especially when there are parts of Worcester that look absolutely sparkling. Now I'm not sure if that's why these decisions were made. I am only taking a look at similarities and differences between two Asian communities and how the celebrations therefore function. I guess I really need to interview people from there to find out instead of just talking after having spend a few hours in the city.

I definitely would like to go back next year, especially since the event is so early there is no time conflict and also I will take notes for my own New Year event in JP, which will be much smaller scale of course.


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