OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – The terrorist attack that killed dozens of worshipers at a New Zealand mosque was a somber backdrop at Saturday’s Persian New Year celebration at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California.
The ICCNC hosted it’s first Persian New Year celebration open to the public in Oakland on Saturday.READ MORE: COVID: Muni To Suspend 'Short' Line Service Citing Vaccine Mandate Staffing Issues
Organizers thought about canceling the event altogether in light of the New Zealand massacre, but they decided to continue on with their plans, to not show any fear.
The Persian New Year ushers in spring and a rebirth. The Oakland community turned out by the hundreds to do just that.
“My family and I were really excited to come this year, but in light of what happened yesterday there were a bunch of us that chose not to come today, decided to stay together as a family and were a little bit actually nervous about coming out,” said attendee Parisa Javid of Oakland. “I decided to still come out anyways just to show my solidarity.”
Sheela Kian of Oakland shared that sentiment.
“What if there’s a shooting here? It’s like the first Persian Nowruz event in Oakland and a lot of people attending, and I’m very paranoid,” Kian said.READ MORE: UPDATE: Investigation Underway Into Apparent Shooting On I-580 In Oakland
Kian said she decided to show up because of her love for her culture.
The day-long festival featured food from different vendors, activities for children, performances including a play, and a speech by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf.
“It is a time to kind of cleanse your soul, to recommit yourself to the values of love and support, and so I think it’s very poignant in light of recent events,” said Schaaf.
At the beginning of the evening’s program, there was a moment a silence for the 50 victims in the New Zealand massacre.
“Seeing some footage of the event really takes a lot out of you but the outpour of support and love that we got from the city of Oakland, from the faith leaders, from our neighbors, from ordinary citizens of the city bringing all these flowers to us, that made it a little easier,” said ICCNC Chairman of the Board Payman Amiri.
There was extra security on hand at event and the Oakland Police Department did extra patrols around the venue, as they did Friday night at many mosques throughout the city.MORE NEWS: San Francisco Bans City-Funded Travel To States Over Voting Restrictions
The ICCNC said Saturday’s event was its largest in 25 years.