Chinatown plans events for AAPI Heritage Month

San Francisco's Chinatown is unveiling a lineup of events to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

There are events planned for every weekend to make sure everyone knows that Chinatown and our Asian American communities are open for business. Economic strength and safety are top of mind.

Some parts of Chinatown are already buzzing with activity. Organizers of this year's Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month activities want to see the whole area come alive with visitors. 

"We share the month with many other special occasions, such as Cinco de Mayo, Jewish American Heritage Month," said Claudine Cheng from APA Heritage Foundation. "But, we are here today to talk about our AAPI Heritage Month."

Cheng says Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month is a wonderful time to welcome the world to Chinatown, and remind everyone that the neighborhood is open for business year-round, not just during Lunar New Year celebrations. 

"Every Saturday there are five, six, seven events happening right here in Chinatown," said Cheng. "I think you can basically spend the whole day here, enjoy the programs, and in between get a bite and visit all the small businesses."

Community leaders Wednesday unveiled events underway each weekend throughout the month, including lion dancing, health fairs and the Chinatown Cultural Festival, which will shut down six blocks in the neighborhood to make way for a parade and celebration in the streets. 

Nancy Yu Law from the Chinatown History and Culture Association says big events can expose Chinese culture to the broader community. 

"This parade will attract a lot of people to come and understand our culture, to understand the community," said Yu Law. "So definitely we are hoping this event will bring economic enhancement to a lot of merchants."

While AAPI Heritage Month is a time to celebrate, many say the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the city can't let down their guard.

Although hate crimes are down from the peak in 2021, many say even at a time when they should be celebrating their heritage, many still feel the need to be vigilant.

Lily Ho from Delta Chinatown says AAPI violence is an issue for everyone to speak out against, not just the victims' communities. 

"The Asian American Community relies on the support of our allies to say something and do something when something does happen," said Ho. "Even if statistics have changed since the peak of anti-Asian hate in 2021 they're still there and they still live with us."

This weekend's festivities get underway Friday night with the return of the Night Market in Chinatown at 5:30 p.m. Dozens of businesses will be participating and is expected to draw a big crowd.