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1 year after tragic shooting, thousands celebrate Lunar New Year in Monterey Park

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Thousands gathered in Monterey Park, Calif. this weekend to celebrate the Lunar New Year, a year following a tragic mass shooting that claimed 11 lives during the same festivities.

About the tragedy: On Jan. 21, 2023, a lone gunman perpetrated a devastating attack at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, leaving 11 dead and nine injured. The shooter, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was later found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Celebration and remembrance: In the spirit of resilience and unity, the city hosted its annual Lunar New Year Festival on Jan. 27-28, 2024. This year's festival, now in its 16th year, involved traditional music, dance and food, with vendors and food booths dotting the festival grounds.

A popular spot was the "Wishing Tree," where people tied ribbons with their hopes and dreams for the Year of the Dragon, reported KCAL News. The festival also featured its hallmark traditions, including the lion and dragon dancers.

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A community's healing process: A week before the celebration, the city held a vigil at Monterey Park’s City Hall on Jan. 21 to honor the victims. Speakers, which included those who lost their loved ones, emphasized the need for stricter regulations.

“We're trying to be very mindful of the fact that there are going to be residents in this community, who were impacted by the shooting last year, who might not have a friend or family member to celebrate with them, and that it also might bring back thoughts of grief,” Monterey Park Mayor Jose Sanchez said, according to Time. “That's OK, that's part of the healing process."

Addressing collective trauma: In the aftermath of the shooting, the city and the local Asian community have played a central role in supporting survivors through initiatives aimed at promoting healing and well-being. Among them is the Resiliency Center, established by the Chinatown Service Center, which encourages residents to participate in cultural events and tailored workshops.

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