San Diego Lantern Festival Starts Today

Festival To Be Held In City Heights Area, Lasts Until Sunday

Six thousand red lanterns will illuminate City Heights Friday for the start of the inaugural San Diego Lantern Festival, a three-day celebration organizers hope will help revitalize the community.

The festival, organized by the Little Saigon Foundation, is expected to draw 40,000 to 50,000 people.

It features three nights of lion dances, a lantern parade every evening, a pageant, multicultural food, carnival rides and an outdoor screening of "Enter the Dragon" in celebration of the 70th anniversary of Bruce Lee's birth.

According to the Little Saigon Foundation, lantern festivals are an ancient Vietnamese tradition.

By bringing the tradition to San Diego, the nonprofit hopes to unite residents, businesses, government agencies and community groups toward the goal of revitalizing the neighborhoods in City Heights by promoting cultural pride, facilitating tourism and encouraging economic investment in the area.

The foundation has been working to brand a six-block stretch of El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights as Little Saigon.

The event runs from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Hoover High School, 4474 El Cajon Blvd. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for children.