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'Winter Wonderland' Street Festival Promotes Recovery in SF Chinatown

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- The second annual Chinatown Winter Wonderland on Saturday brought together a San Francisco community still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and eager to support each other during the holiday season.

"Chinatown has been absolutely devastated from businesses shutting down to the remaining businesses really struggling to stay afloat," said Linda Phung of ImaginAsian Productions. "With the current surge in COVID cases and omicron, we wanted to make it absolutely a priority that we are providing vaccinations here in Chinatown for our community."

Chinese Hospital provided 350 doses to those looking for a booster shot or to get the vaccine for their children. City leaders thanked the hospital, a pillar of the community, for its work to get thousands of residents vaccinated and help San Francisco reach a vaccination level of 80 percent.

"Chinese Hospital wanted to make sure that access is easy and a low barrier for all populations," said Gina Yam of Chinese Hospital.

The vaccine and safety measures allowed crowds to gather in 2021, making the event a much larger celebration than its first year. The Winter Wonderland took over several blocks of Chinatown and closed Grant Avenue between Clay and Washington streets.

"This is what a community should be doing on a regular basis," San Francisco mayor London Breed said at the event. "This is an example of how, when we come together, not only will we keep our community safe and take care of one another, this is how we make magic happen for San Francisco."

Various organizations distributed toys at the event, giving away 1,100 presents over the course of the day bringing a measure of joy to children in need who come from families living in single-room-occupancy dwellings.

"Firefighters -- we love to help out -- and, this time of year, we don't want a child to be without a toy," said Stanley Lee with the Asian Firefighters Association.

Many of the speakers at the event acknowledged the multiple challenges this community has faced besides the pandemic, including anti-Asian hate.

"Our community has always been united and supportive to each other," said San Francisco supervisor Connie Chan.

Chinatown is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the country. Organizers say it is essential they maintain the traditions and resources this community has enjoyed for decades.

"It's incredibly important for us to be able to take action to preserve the legacy of housing the oldest Chinatown for future generations to come," Phung told KPIX.

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