On October 27, 2014, the Thai Community Development Center (Thai CDC) in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Thai Town celebrated the 15-year anniversary of Thai Town at Thailand Plaza. The celebration marked a milestone in the history of Thais in Los Angeles as it signifies the lasting impact that Thais have made in the U.S. and Los Angeles. The creation of Thai Town offered East Hollywood and the Thai community a vehicle towards economic self-sufficiency in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest. As many families and businesses struggled to survive during the aftermath of the turmoil of 1992, Thai CDC petitioned and received the official designation of Thai Town in 1999 in an effort to revitalize East Hollywood with cultural tourism. Since that time, a wide range of commercial activity has taken root and thrived along this stretch of Hollywood Boulevard thanks to the Thai Town designation. This has led to the creation of an economic base for the Thai community which has helped lift many families out of poverty. To this day, LA’s Thai Town remains the only Thai Town in the U.S.
The Master of Ceremonies, Reuben Lim of the Rotary Club of Thai Town, officiated over the event as he introduced the many dignitaries who spoke of their role in the development of Thai Town. Royal Thai Consul General Jesda Katavetin, Congressman Adam Schiff, a representative of Mayor Eric Garcetti, and a representative of Councilman Mitch O’Farell spoke of the significance of Thai Town to the packed room. Their remarks addressed the importance of Thai Town in a broader scale that offered insight into how Thai Town enriches the City of Los Angeles culturally while providing an economic driver for all who live and work in Thai Town. The merchants and residents of Thai Town shared their stories of survival in East Hollywood. The merchants and residents described how their struggle for success was made easier by the exposure their businesses received through the Thai Town designation which literally put them on the map. Thai CDC’s Executive Director, Chanchanit Martorell, read passages from her book, Thais in Los Angeles with highlights and anecdotes of the Thai immigrant experience.
No birthday celebration is complete without a birthday cake. The staff from Thai CDC and the Rotary Club of Thai Town rolled out the cake complete with 15 year candles. Thai Town merchants such as Ruen Pair, KT Thai Cuisine, Lacha Somtum Thai Restaurant, Hollywood Thai and Crispy Pork Gang commemorated the occasion by offering customers special discounts on the day of the anniversary. Group photos and a book signing wrapped up the evening as dignitaries and guests congratulated each other and promised to return for the 20th anniversary celebration.
Images of the evening can be found here.
KPCC news article on Thai Town’s birthday can be found here.
NBC news on Thai Town’s 15th Anniversary can be found here.