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Oakland's Little Saigon hosts first Sunset Market in Clinton Park

Oakland’s Little Saigon neighborhood tested out a new type of community event on Saturday: a “Sunset Market” going from the afternoon to the early evening.

Little Saigon’s first Sunset Market was hosted by the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce at Clinton Park on International Boulevard.

The event featured a live DJ, a bouncy house, booths from organizations like Laney College and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, wares from local artisans, and food from Bay Area small businesses.

“We are encouraging folks to come out, even if it’s not late at night, even if it’s after 4, it’s going to make a big difference for the sense of safety for our communities,” said Jennifer Tran, the president of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce.

Tran said that many nearby businesses have been closing early because they’re worried about crime and hate targeted toward Asian Americans.

“The challenges around AAPI hate during the pandemic, compounded by the economic challenges of the COVI pandemic has really brought these issues to an intense level that we’ve never seen before,” Tran said.

Tran hopes that the Sunset Market will help bring the community back into public spaces.

The Sunset Market was made possible due to funding from an Activate Oakland Grant from the city.

Oakland City Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas, whose district includes Little Saigon, attended the market as well.

“So this is one of several programs we’re going to have to bring multiple generations together and really bring people outside,” Fortunato Bas explained.

She explained that this is part of a larger effort in Oakland to encourage people to use parks and recreation centers and to support small businesses.

“This is one example of getting folks out into the community to show that we’re really going to lift up Oakland,” Fortunato Bas said.

Attendees also enjoyed the variety of food available at the market from vendors around the Bay Area.

One of the vendors at the market was Ree’s Home Sweets, which specializes in Southern desserts.

“[We] gotta come out and just enjoy the community and show some love for the small business owners,” said Mariecea Calloway who owns Ree’s Home Sweets.

“The vibe has been really good, people have been coming to my booth!” Calloway noted.

East Bay resident Theodore Domingo said this event was his first time coming to Clinton Park.

“This is actually the first time I found out there was a little Saigon here in Oakland,” Domingo noted.

Domingo believes it’s important to have events like these, especially with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month approaching in May.

“Just the past few years we’ve been suffering some serious anti-Asian hate crimes, and it’s time we started to form some special events that promote the fight against that kind of inequity,” Domingo said.

Organizers say this won’t be their last Sunset Market in Little Saigon. They say they’re hoping to see continued investment from the city into this community.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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