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The Downtown Merced Lao New Year Celebration will highlight the culture and heritage of the Lao people, which were solidified during the reign of the ancient Lan Xang Kingdom (1353 C.E. - 1707 C.E. “Land of a million elephants”). After centuries of conflicts and border changes, modern-day Laos encompasses over 60 ethnic groups (including the Khmu, Hmong, and Mien) who also celebrate their respective cultural new years during different times of the year, as well as Lao New Year in April.

Before 2018, it had been over 30 years since the Lao community had a public celebration of the Lao New Year in Merced. After 2019, the celebration was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. In 2021 and 2022, we had smaller celebrations. For 2023, we are bringing back the parade, tentatively with a float contest. Each year, we hope to make the Celebration bigger and bigger, as we do our part to help revitalize Downtown Merced.