The mood was subdued on Sunday at an annual Lunar New Year kickoff event in San Francisco's Portsmouth Square, after members of the Asian American community in the Southern California city of Monterey Park were senselessly gunned down amid celebrations there the night before.
At the event, as ABC 7 reports, Mayor London Breed called for a moment of silence "for those families and those victims who lost their lives to this tragedy."
The annual Choy Sun Doe celebration, put on by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, features Choy Suns (prosperity deities) handing out chocolate coins and red envelopes, "Lai Sees," as gifts to thousands of children. In the tradition of Lunar New Year, the more Lai Sees one gives out, the more good luck will be returned.
But it was unquestionably some bad luck that befell the five men and five women, all between the ages of 50 and 80, who were killed by a gunman at a ballroom dancing studio on Monterey Park on Saturday night. And now, many are saying that a pall has been cast over Lunar New Year celebrations everywhere, and people are nervous about being in crowds and being targeted for violence.
ABC 7 reported on a "noticeable police presence" at the Portsmouth Square event on Sunday. And SFPD Assistant Chief David Lazar said at the event, "We will also make sure we increase our presence during the parade, any public gatherings and any public gathering we will be there."
San Francisco's famous Chinese New Year Parade is happening on February 4, and is expected to draw thousands of spectators. An annual street fair also happens earlier that day in Chinatown.
UC Berkeley student Jenny Chen, who was born in Monterey Park and grew up nearby, spoke to KPIX on Sunday, saying the mass shooting so close to home is "definitely scary."
"As we're going about [town], obviously there's a voice in the back of my head that's like 'Hopefully nothing happens, hopefully,'" Chen says. "And, thank god nothing has happened [here]."
The Oakland Police Department told ABC 7 that it would be providing "additional resources and high visibility where necessary" during Lunar New Year events.
At the parade two weeks from now, which will be the biggest and most well-attended event of the Lunar New Year, organizers are also telling volunteers to be on alert.
"We are alerting our volunteers and parade marshals to be vigilant. If they spot something out of the ordinary, report it to officers," said SF Lunar New Year Parade Director Harlan Wong, speaking to ABC 7.
And Malcolm Yeung, executive director of the San Francisco Chinatown Community Development Center, tells the station that in his view, everyone should "celebrate a little bit harder with your community — that's how we're going to make sure love conquers hate, not the other way around."