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Thousands pack San Francisco Chinatown Night Market ahead of APEC

Thousands drawn to S.F. Chinatown for night market
Thousands drawn to S.F. Chinatown for night market 03:19

The global spotlight will be on San Francisco for APEC, and Chinatown wants to showcase its culture and community to the world.

With a huge turnout on the first night of the Chinatown Night Market, they're off to a successful start. Many vendors ran out of food halfway into the festival, which featured 25 local food and drink vendors. 

Chinatown's famous lantern-lined street, Grant Avenue, turned even more vibrant and lively as thousands packed the open-air market on the eve of the APEC summit kickoff. The international event is expect to bring 20,000 people to the city. 

It's the largest gathering of world leaders in San Francisco since 1945. 

ALSO READ: What to know about APEC-related San Francisco street closures and transit impacts

Lion dancers dazzled the crowd as locals and tourists captured the entertainment. And AA Bakery owner Henry Chen put on his own show of sorts, as he decorated cupcakes with different floral designs

"I'm happy seeing all the people happy tonight," Chen said. 

Chen has owned AA Bakery for more than 30 years. He said since the pandemic, sales have been in a slump.

"Chinatown after COVID very bad, so we try creating Chinatown, more different, the food, different kinds," he said of trying to draw customers to the neighborhood.

Nonprofit BeChinatown founder Lily Lo wanted to wow visitors, including those who may be in town for APEC.

"Chinatown lately been very slow, and I want them to come to enjoy, hopefully, people come to eat and shop because my idea is really to help the small business who struggle," Lo said. 

KPIX spotted a busload of tourists who made a stop at the market and saw familiar faces, including one of San Francisco's most famous drag queens Sister Roma. 

ALSO READ: Commuters explore their transit options ahead of APEC kickoff in San Francisco

"This is so beautiful. We need more of this; this is what San Francisco is really about. The doom loop narrative has got to end," Roma said. "This community has been the backbone of San Francisco for decades."

"You feel that you are in contact with a new culture for me, and it's unbelievable the way that you can interact with people, the food, the tea. I remember from long time ago," said Gigi Alarconi, a tourist from Colombia. 

SFPD officers were also highly visible throughout the night.

"We're fully mobilized. We have a presence in the downtown area, around Moscone, in all the venue areas. We have police officers everywhere," said Assistant SFPD Chief David Lazar.

The night market runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11 on two blocks of Grant Avenue. 

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