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Chinatown Businesses Hoping Customers Return For Lunar New Year And Beyond

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Friday marks the first day of the Lunar New Year, a three-day festival celebrated in several Asian cultures. In the Philadelphia area, the biggest celebration usually happens in Chinatown, but not this year. Community members hope people will still include Chinatown in their own Year of the Ox celebrations this year.

The firecrackers, lion dances, and big crowds of past Chinese New Year celebrations are on hold this year, in another devastating blow to what has been a difficult year for Chinatown.

"I'm sure like, with everyone, it's been tough," said Eric Law, manager of Asia Crafts near 10th and Cherry Streets. "Us especially, business-wise, because we do rely on the tourists during the summer times and the holiday season."

A store like Asia Crafts would typically be bustling with people picking up traditional Chinese clothing, decorations and of course, those red envelopes to fill with lucky money for the kids. But the pandemic has taken its toll on the neighborhood.

"Chinatown is a commercial corridor with small business owners, many of them are family-run and this is really their livelihood," said John Chin, executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

Chin said PCDC's "Ai Love Chinatown" campaign aims to bring business back, particularly during this special time of year. Takeout app Chowbus is lending a helping hand through February 17th.

"If you order a takeout order from one of the Chowbus Chinatown restaurants now, five dollars will be donated from Chowbus to our organization to support families and businesses in Chinatown," Chin said.

PCDC is also partnering with Franklin Square Park for a Chinatown scavenger hunt you can do at your own pace from Feb. 12-19.

Many are hopeful that these efforts are just the beginning of the Year of the Ox that will help Chinatown bounce back stronger than ever.

"Come on down, help support local business, small business," Law said.

"Looking forward to a new and better tomorrow, with the pandemic hopefully behind us, not too far away," Chin said.

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