Welcome back party in Chinatown-ID draws crowd to Hing Hay Park

SEATTLE — Seattle’s Chinatown-International District was abuzz Saturday as part of the city’s “Welcome Back” initiative, designed to reinvigorate the Emerald City as it comes out of the pandemic.

This is especially important in the CID, a community hard hit by the anti-Asian hate that, sadly, accompanied COVID-19.

That is why they say what happened Saturday was so meaningful. That it is also confirmation that the neighborhood and the people there aren’t going anywhere — that they are resilient.

From break dancing, to dance lessons, from singing, to the martial arts, even a COVID-19 shot, too.

“Get vaccinated,” said Jaquan Price, to no one in particular. The CID resident said he wanted a vaccine.

“Actually, yeah,” said Price. “I do want to be vaccinated because I do coach and stuff like that. And I do work with kids.”

All of it at Hing Hay Park on a beautiful Saturday in July to say the Chinatown-International District is back.

“I feel like shared joy in this moment,” said Jenny Ku of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture, as she surveyed the scene.

She and her coworkers booked the entertainment.

“It says that we’re here and we’re vibrant. And it also says, ‘come have a shared experience.’”

A shared experience that is of special import there given the violence that the Asian community experienced and the loss of business because of the virus.

The impact was felt acutely by the small businesses that are the economic engine of the CID.

“The combination of arts and culture and small business really is a celebration of what makes this neighborhood and Seattle really special,” said Laura Clise, founder and CEO of Internationalist.

And it appears to be hitting its mark. A couple drove up from Pierce County for the bubble tea. They stayed because of the celebration.

“A lucky, accident, absolutely,” said Kevin Canosa. “We’re just walking around the neighborhood, you know, got bubble tea and we’re like, ‘Oh, this is a good event.’ We’re here for some good music. So, we’ll see what’s going on. I’m glad we stopped by.”

A lot of people no doubt felt that same way.

Four blocks away, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was there for a special unveiling — a mural which had been tagged so many times they had to paint it over.