Hundreds of Chinese lanterns have lit up a street of New York’s Chinatown to encourage more people to visit the area and act as a beacon of hope for the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Light Up Chinatown project began as an idea by 46 Mott Street Bakery manager, Patrick Mock, when he noticed how dark the block was at night, according to Time Out. With help coming from City Council District 1 candidate Jenny Low, Chung Seto of United Democratic Organization (UDO), Joanne Kwong of Pearl River Mart and the Send Chinatown Love movement, Mock was able to turn his dream of lighting up his community into reality.
Inspired by the lanterns of San Francisco’s Chinatown, Mock, Kwong and Seto took the idea to the Chinatown Business Improvement District, where they managed to secure a $21,000 funding for the project.
They also received an $8,000 grant from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and over $47,000 through other unspecified grants and donations. One of the donors specially mentioned by Send Chinatown Love in its Instagram post was actor Will Smith.
The project installed hundreds of personalized lanterns containing names and Chinese calligraphy created by artists from the New York Chinese Cultural Center and Think!Chinatown.
After finishing their first goal on Dec. 23, 2020, which was to light up Mott Street using 250 lanterns, the project now aims to extend the lanterns up to Bayard Street as part of its phase 3 plan. Their GoFundMe campaign has now raised over $6,700.
“The first night, the [business owners] were showing me the photos they took,” Seto said. “They were so excited. There’s been a big difference—this project has really brought some hope to business owners and that’s what we wanted to achieve.”
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