Samantha Molina & Taylor Gonzales/Courier Night market in Arcadia
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Santa Anita Park was once again transformed into the largest Asian-themed night market in the country as the 626 Nightmarket celebrated its 5 year anniversary. Dozens of live performers, a vast array of asian culinary selections, and crowds as far as the eye could see were among the festivities as the 626 Nightmarket raged into the late hours of the night this past weekend.

A stage stacked with talent throughout the weekend held performances from local artists and Djs including the Top Shelf Brass Band, Michael Barnum, and DJ Ladidadi to name a few. Crowd favorite, Brandan Ly performed a medley of acoustic covers. The entire audience sang and swayed along as he took on hits by Drake and Christina Aguilera and put his own spin on them. Ly had never performed for such a huge event, and said he could feel his nerves taking over, but no one in the audience could tell as he effortlessly sang Ed Sheeran while playing his guitar. Ly found out about performing at the Nightmarket through an Instagram post stating they needed performers. Recalling looking out into the crowd Ly referred to the audience as “Amazing and heartwarming.”

One member of the amazing audience, Joel Lopez, traveled all the way from San Fernando Valley to attend the Nightmarket. “As always Brendan killed it” Lopez said of Ly’s performance.

The entire nightmarket was lined with booths selling accessories, clothing, art, and a multitude of other asian culture themed trinkets. Booths such as Spirit Spa Soap, Succulent Heaven, and Beyond Party Supplies had lines of people checking out what they had to offer.

One of the most popular booths was The Animal Box, which sold custom t-shirts with food related expressions on them. Some of the more memorable shirts had sayings such as “Oh kale yeah!” and “I’m all that and dim sum.”

The main reason people were flocking to the nightmarket was the food. From The Enseymada  Project and its butterbuns to Ramenology with its squid ink ramen, there were treats for every type of asian food enthusiast.

Doicissimo Bakeshop was selling French Macaron Ice Cream sandwiches to the masses with unique flavors including Circus animal and French toast. Miister potato had what seemed to be an endless line of people waiting to get their hands on a stick with a potato strung around it.

Along with the dozens of food stands were food trucks. The trucks offered an alternative to the asian themed food as there was a funnel cake truck and a lobster truck.

The later the night got, the longer the lines got, and the harder it was to find anything or anyone you were looking for. This year’s event covered a smaller amount of the park grounds, causing for lots of traffic jams and frustration between people not being able to tell where one line started and another line ended.

The area near the carnival games was a little more spread out, as kids were playing Bank a Ball and tossing ping pong balls into floating cups hoping to win a giant minion stuffed animal.

The booths selling original artwork were another huge part of the nightmarket. One booth seemed to be drawing the most attention, and that was the booth of Noah Sturm. Sturm described his 3D shadowbox artwork as “pop culture mash ups and references,” saying the “ideas just come to me when I see something I think is funny.” Sturm wasn’t the only one who found these references funny, as people crowded his booth to get a glimpse of his shadowboxes featuring lovable characters from well known movies and tv shows such as The Simpsons, Star Wars, and The Lego Movie.

The 626 Nightmarket was quite the celebration over the weekend, bringing out thousands of people to experience a night of Asian-themed culture. Its 5 year anniversary with its enormous crowds showed how big the event has grown over such a short amount of time, but also showed areas that could use improvement, such as space.
The 626 Nightmarket has events coming up in August and September as well. For more information visit their website.

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