A popular Chinese New Year Festival event that has drawn thousands of people to a Miami Dade College campus for more than three decades has been canceled.
The reason for scrapping the festival, which has been held at the Kendall campus for the past 32 years, was provided in this statement on Friday: “In order to stand with the global family of Asia — especially China, the Asian-American Advisory Board regrets to announce the Chinese Cultural Foundation has decided to cancel the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival.”
The announcement urges the public to “Please enjoy and celebrate the Chinese New Year — the Year of the Rat with your loved ones” and to support the 2021 Year of the Ox Chinese New Year Festival in Miami.
The Chinese New Year Festival Miami’s Facebook page cites coronavirus as the actual reason for removing the event from this year’s calendar.
A post on the page explains, “Due to the worldwide concerns regarding 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and our concern for the welfare and benefit of all our visitors, vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors, the 2020 Festival Committee has canceled the 2020 Chinese New Year Festival.”
Peter Liu, the president of the Chinese Cultural Foundation and the festival’s chair, told The Miami Herald that the decision to cancel this year’s event was due to expectations of a drop in attendance.
Although the coronavirus was not given as the direct reason for the cancellation, he added that “because of unwarranted fears” the revenue loss from this year’s festival could result in “financial bankruptcy” and possibly lead to the end of the festival.
The event, which includes food vendors and cultural performances, typically draws between 3,000 and 4,000 people for a $10 admission fee.
It is staffed by volunteers and small vendors, while festival organizers rent space on the campus for a stage and seating. The professional performers, in addition to police security staff and bathroom facility staffers, also need to be paid.
“The festival limps from year to year and that is why financial stability is significant,” Liu says. “We have heard reports from many of our regular attendees that they plan to skip this year.”
He estimates that the expected decline in attendance would have been about 20 percent from the normal amount, or about 600 fewer people.
Although there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus in Miami, its impact on local businesses and on the cruise industry is being felt.
Florida could end up losing as much as $1.75 billion as a result of the virus, with about one-quarter of that amount concentrated in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to a Miami Herald report.
The viral outbreak that began in China has now infected nearly 35,000 people worldwide, global health authorities said in Beijing.
There have been 12 U.S. cases, and one American citizen has died in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.