TAMPA, Fla. - Saturday's mass shooting at a Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration in Monterey, California was on the hearts and minds of many at Sunday's Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration in Tampa. For the last 10 years, the Suncoast Association of Chinese Americans has been hosting the event at Water Works Park in Tampa.
Celebrating a fresh start and new beginnings is what the Lunar New Year is all about for Chinese Americans.
"It's a spring festival, like a family reunion. We get to catch up with our good friends and a big food feast," said Janet Ho, president of the Suncoast Association of Chinese Americans.
But Sunday's festival comes just 24 hours after police said a gunman opened fire on a Lunar New Year Celebration in California killing 10 people and wounding 10 others.
"It's a very tragic incident and I believe it's an isolated incident. Our hearts and prayers go out to those families," Ho said.
Ho learned of the tragedy early Sunday morning just as she was preparing for the event. She said it's upsetting to know innocent people who came to enjoy Chinese culture – from the food to the music to the dancing – lost their lives in yet another mass shooting.
"We are the kind of people that like to share. We love to share our food like Chinese food. We love to share our tradition, and we are a very loving a passionate people. We just enjoy this community very much," Ho said.
It's why people like Emil Joseph came to Sunday's celebration and, like many, were thinking about the victims but undeterred by what happened.
"My kids and I discussed it on the way here, but you got to get out. You can't live in fear," Joseph said.