Organizers expect smooth, safe Oroville Hmong New Year Festival

Oct 10, 2014 7:04 PM by Brian Johnson

The organizer of Oroville's Hmong New Year Festival says he's confident that this weekend's celebrations will be safe and secure.

Tomorrow's festival comes one week after Chico's Hmong New Year Festival was cancelled because of Hmong gang violence that spilled out into the streets.

"We're going to celebrate this is as welcoming the new year and going to hope to achieve a good fortune for the next following year," said Muk Thao, vice coordinator for the festival.

And part of looking forward, says Thao, is putting the bad things, like what happened in Chico last weekend, behind them.

"At an event, things happen," said Thao. "Unexpected things happen."

A lot of bad things happened during last weekend's Hmong New Year festival in Chico.

First, the General Vang Pao statue was vandalized, then Hmong gangs began shooting in the streets, leading to Sunday's festivities being cancelled.

Monday, a known Hmong gang member shot and killed one Asian man, and injured another on Highway 70 in Oroville.

"We're not let something like this pushing us down or stopping us from doing a good event for the community," Thao said. "I welcome everybody to this festival, don't worry. You can rest assure because the law enforcement, along with myself, with the staff, we will keep this place as safely as possible, that's all I can say."

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea told Action News Now Thursday his office, along with Oroville Police, will have a heavy presence not just at the festival, but in the surrounding Oroville area.

Feather River Parks and Recreation District General Manager Ann Willmann says she had conversations with Thao earlier this week and felt comfortable with the response and proactive approach of the people in charge of this weekend's event, which will be held at the Nelson Sports Complex.

Michael Lo, public outreach coordinator for Chico's Hmong New Year Festival, says that because of safety concerns, next year's event might not even happen, or at least will be changed.


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