FRESNO, Calif. - Today marks day one of the week-long Hmong new year celebration. The new organization called the Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration group took over for this year's event. They said there are some changes, but what hasn't changed is making sure the Hmong culture is honored with both the young and the old.
"We all come together and celebrate have a good time, just have fun, socialize with each other," said Nhia Her, who was born in Thailand.
As a proud Hmong man living in Fresno in the 21st century, he wanted to hold on to traditions, once practiced by his elders.
He said, "Throw it back and forth, talk, get to know one another, just have fun, just talk."
Her was playing the "ball toss", it's a way for young people to break the ice. He got to meet Joleen Xiong.
Xiong said, "While you're tossing, you're supposed to ask questions and get to know the person or sing a song."
Hmong Cultural New Year Celebration (HCNYC) event organizer Vicky Xiong-Lor said little activities like the "ball toss", is what the Hmong New Year is all about.
"Because they are so busy learning English, they're forgetting about their Hmong language. And if they forget their Hmong language, that means they forget about their culture too," stated Xiong-Lor.
The celebration kicked off with a parade and ceremony, attended by Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, and Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke. Xiong-Lor said some of the attractions, like the pageant and singing competitions will be held outside.
She said, "This year, we're bringing it all live out here on this beautiful stage. And besides that, we are having a kids zone."
For some of the older Hmong people like Kyle Lor, seeing the Hmong culture come alive made him extremely happy and joyous about what lies ahead.
"I could see that all the young boys and girls, they are wearing Hmong and I'm so excited, I think that our culture gonna keep become stronger," ended Lor.
This is one of the largest Hmong cultural events in the country. Nearly 120,000 people come through the fairgrounds each year. It is open to the public every day for the next week, starting at 8am, and it's $5 to get in.