Thousands Celebrated Hmong New Year

FRESNO, Calif. Music from a special Hmong flute entertained the crowd as part of a parade that included groups from across the country.

The biggest draw, though, may have been General Vang Pao, the Hmong leader who addressed the crowd in his native tongue.

The general also helped release red, white, and blue balloons to signify the connection between the US and the Hmong, who helped American's fight the Vietnam War.

But the celebration wasn't completely serious, with plenty of food and frivolous games -- like the traditional ball tossing between boys and girls.

"It's just a way of communicating, just to have fun and a sport. It's kind of like, yeah, how we meet people to talk," said Kau Xue of Fresno.

Fresno's first Hmong City Council Member, Blong Xiong, enjoyed the celebration with fellow Council Member Cynthia Sterling and Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

The celebrations continue through January 2nd.

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