Ten thousand people are expected to gather at Dorchester's Bayside Exposition Center Feb. 2 to welcome the year of the rat and to celebrate Tet, the Vietnamese lunar new year that officially begins Feb. 7. The 11 a.m. kickoff ceremony of the Tet in Boston festival will feature traditional lion and dragon dances as well as keynote speaker Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, Mayor Thomas Menino, Sen. Jack Hart, and Rep. Martin Walsh. City councillors Maureen Feeney, Michael Flaherty, Chuck Turner and Sam Yoon, will also be in attendance.
The opening ceremony will memorialize the 40th anniversary of the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War that resulted in the deaths of more than 4,000 soldiers from the United States and South Vietnam. Vietnam veterans and surviving family members of those killed in the war will be honored at the kickoff event.
Hosted by the Vietnamese-American Community of Massachusetts and the Intercollegiate Vietnamese Students Association, the festival will last until midnight, with plenty of traditional food and entertainment to fill up the day. Coming from California to perform are Vietnamese rapper, Chosen One, and Truong Trieu Vu, a Vietnamese pop star who sings songs of the native homeland. There will be fashion shows, live music performances from high school and university student groups, carnival games and a 'Kids Korner' featuring a moonwalk and prizes for the children. A traditional Vietnamese town hall will be erected in the spirit of ancient celebrations, when kings ruled Vietnam and people gathered at the ancestral shrines to celebrate.
Boston's Vietnamese community, centered in Dorchester, is the third largest Asian ethnicity in the area, after Chinese and Indian, and continues to grow. Thanh Binh Nguyen, a member of the Tet in Boston planning committee, said Boston's Vietnamese population, including many second generation young professionals, made last year's Tet in Boston a vibrant success. He expects this year's festival to be just as exciting and hopes that others in the area will come and share in the celebration.