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      Vietnamese New Year celebration brings out colorful culture, pride and thankfulness

      We may be more than halfway through January but Sunday, hundreds of folks in Amarillo gathered to celebrate the Vietnamese New Year -- the Year of the Dragon.

      "Tomorrow is the first day of the Lunar New Year," explained Vice President Chairman of the Vietnamese New Year Celebration, Dominic Trinh. "But we have to take this Sunday as the day off so we can do this and tomorrow everybody goes back to work."

      "This is their celebration, their New Year that kind of encompasses everything we have from our Thanksgiving and from our New Years," added Mayor of Amarillo and New Year Celebration participant, Paul Harpole.

      Since the Vietnamese New Year is one of the biggest holidays in their country, their colorful culture was put on display in many ways during Sunday's 38th Annual Vietnamese New Year Celebration.

      "They're food is fantastic," laughed the Mayor.

      "We have dancing, we have entertainment, we have the dragon dance," said Trinh. "We try to praise to the Lord to God who created earth and tried to remember our ancestor who died for younger generations."

      While Trinh said it was so important to celebrate the New Year and their culture, it was just as important to teach that culture to their youth.

      "Our children, the younger generations born here don't know much about their culture," he said. "The New Year is the most important thing in Vietnam so we try to teach the children here about our culture and to keep that culture. It doesn't matter where they go, whether they were born here or whatever."

      In a country as diverse as ours, that's something we can all relate to.

      "The United States of America is proud to have all kinds of culture and international people here and they are proud to be American," said Trinh. "No matter what color they are."

      "They are part of our melting pot but we don't want anybody to give up their cultural diversity and all the history," added Mayor Harpole. "It's rich history they bring from their country, thousands of years of history culminated today for the Year of the Dragon."

      So from one culture to another: Happy New Year.