HONOLULU (KHON2) — Pageant royalty kicked off the first of what will be monthly cultural celebrations at Maunakea Marketplace, this year observing its 30th anniversary.

“Chinatown has been in a slowdown for a while, so this is the first day of Chinese New Year, the year of the rat so people will come and celebrate and gather, hang around, eat, shop, do whatever they want,” said Barinna Poon of Maunakea Marketplace.

The marketplace is off to a good start. A joint project with the city and county will see the centers top floor occupied by a recreation center and 38 low-income apartments.

The Lunar New Year is not just fun and festivity. It is also a time for prayer, for better business for Chinatown and health and safety for family back home.

“I’m concerned that it’s going to spread from the province where it’s now into the city where they are. We’re hoping and praying that everybody is safe and they contain the virus so it doesn’t affect our family in Zhosun,” said Stephanie, who is worried about the Coronavirus.

The community hopes the year of the rat will ease the challenges of the next decade. Gung hee fat Choy.