Crescent City’s Hmong community will ring in the new year Saturday with singing, dancing, a fashion show, volleyball tournament and food at Crescent Elk Middle School.

The annual celebration is free to the community and everyone is invited, according to Khou Vue, a Crescent Elk Middle School teacher and a member of the Hmong Cultural Center of Del Norte County.

Student organizations such as the Hmong Cultural Center and Crescent Elk’s International Club will participate in the fashion show, Vue said. Three groups of local Hmong performers will take the stage in the auditorium as will a Laotian group from Eureka. The volleyball tournament will attract teams from Chico, Sacramento, Fresno and Portland, he said.

“They compete against each other,” Vue said. “The volleyball tournament last year went all the way to almost at night because there were so many teams. And there are prizes for first, second and third place and trophies for each team.”

The Hmong were allies of the U.S. and fought Communist forces invading their homeland of Laos during the Vietnam War. When the war ended and Laos fell under Communist control, there was a mass immigration of Hmong to the U.S.

About 60 to 80 Hmong families call Del Norte County home, Vue said.

The Hmong New Year coincides with the lunar calendar and celebrates the end of the rice harvest season, Vue said. This year’s Hmong New Year was Nov. 18, but due to busy schedules and the availability of the venue, the Crescent City celebration will be held on Saturday, he said.

One highlight of the celebration will be the food. The Hmong community as a whole come together on Friday to cook and prepare the lunch and many spend much of the morning on Saturday preparing the meal, Vue said.

In addition to the performances, fashion show, ball toss and volleyball tournament, the lunch will be free as well, Vue said.

The New Year celebration is a way for the local Hmong community to preserve their unique culture, Vue said. It’s also a time for them to share their culture with others.

“For me, I think, it’s just the joyfulness of seeing people coming together to send off the old year and welcome the new year and providing an opportunity for people to come and mingle and get to know each other, their traditions and cultures,” he said. “We would love to have everyone from the community.”

The Hmong New Year celebration starts at 10 a.m. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Hmong-Cultural-Center-of-Del-Norte-County-California-161275585233146.

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