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Despite concerns, Fountain Valley agrees to host the OC Tet Festival

Fountain Valley will host the OC Tet Festival, a cultural fixture that has been held in Little Saigon for about three decades, the city announced this week.

Officials had been concerned about an initial estimate that up to 100,000 people were expected to attend the festival Feb. 12 to 14 at Mile Square Park. Limits at the Orange County park allow for only 15,000 attendees a day.

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But before a scheduled Tuesday vote on the issue, council members received a second estimate projecting 50,000 attendees over the three days.

"I think it is a marketing number," said festival Chairman Tuan Nguyen. "What we put in writing is 50,000. In our experience, it is an open space so people will come in and out, and we will space out the entertainment to mitigate the flow of attendance."

Residents and businesses near the park have expressed concern over parking.

Police Chief Dan Llorens said his department would try to control parking by providing residents with permits and ticketing individuals without authorization. According to City Manager Bob Hall, business owners have been told that they may initiate the towing of cars that are parked too long in front of their stores.

Despite Nguyen's assurances regarding attendance, some residents were not convinced the city was prepared for the event.

"It sounds like we are trying to drink water through a fire hose," Patrick Tucker said.

Another resident, Kim Constantine, also expressed concern. "There is too much uncertainty with this," Constantine said. "I am hopeful for a peaceful event, but we must have a Plan B with contingencies."

Officials also have worried that the city could be at financial risk.

The event's organizer, the Vietnamese Community of Southern California, owes the city of Garden Grove $27,000 after holding the Tet festival there in 2015. The festival was banned from the city in large part because of this debt, marking the first time the event has not taken place in Little Saigon in 30 years.

The Vietnamese group has given Fountain Valley an $80,000 deposit, an amount that exceeds expected costs, to cover support services and other expenses.

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