Vietnamese Festival Celebrates Youth in Garden Grove Park


The 24-foot-high painting stood against a palm tree in the back of Garden Grove Park on Saturday. It showed a boy and a girl in traditional Vietnamese dress, ready to serve as a backdrop for the stage entertainment to come.

Beneath it, Nancy Nguyen, 2, and her 1-year-old brother, Tony, stood playing with a red cellophane lantern shaped like a butterfly. Both looked as if they had modeled for the giant painting, she in a red traditional dress and he in blue.

“They’re going to be competing in the children’s pageant,” said their mother, Kim Nguyen, 26, of Garden Grove. “They really like it. They really like Tet Trung Thu.”

The Vietnamese community is celebrating Tet Trung Thu--or mid-autumn festival--this weekend from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The holiday celebrates youth, and Saturday’s activities included a children’s lantern parade and beauty pageant. Today’s events will include folk dancing and the awarding of trophies to winners of sports competitions.


The holiday is observed when the moon is at its fullest and brightest of the year, for moonlight symbolizes shining light guiding youths on the path to their future.

The occasion is celebrated with cellophane lanterns of different shapes; with the eating of moon cakes made of flour and beans while sipping tea, and with the telling of a Vietnamese fairy tale about a peasant who flew on a magic tree to the moon so he could be with a fairy princess.

“Tet Trung Thu is a very cute tradition of Vietnam,” said organizer Sinh Van Ho, 34. “We celebrate it to remind our youths to not forget Vietnamese, to not forget the Vietnamese culture.”

The festival started Saturday morning with the sports competitions in volleyball, basketball, soccer and table tennis. About 150 people wandered between the contests to the booths of food, games and cultural crafts.


“Mommy, I want the butterfly,” 9-year-old Sherry Pham said as she stood under a row of hanging cellophane and paper lanterns.

Her mother, Luyen Pham, 44, learned that the lanterns’ prices ranged from $4 to $9, smiled, shrugged and walked away before her daughter could ask again. Sherry followed, too distracted by other booths to remember the lantern.

Pham said she drove with her three daughters for more than an hour from Calabasas, where there are few Vietnamese residents, to attend the festival. She wanted the girls to see how the Vietnamese community observes traditions.

“It’s important for them to know,” Pham said.


There were novelty items among the traditional ones at the festival.

Just as children can be photographed with Santa Claus and with the Easter bunny, Tet Trung Thu’s organizers set up a booth to photograph children with the Vietnamese man on the moon and his fairy princess.

Today, dancers and singers from the Huong Tich Buddhist Family are scheduled to perform at 2 p.m. Sports trophies will be handed out at 3 p.m. At 6 p.m., there will be a raffle to raise money for orphans at refugee camps.