626 Night Market comes to a close

626 Night Market comes to a close

626 Night Market has come to a close for the end of the year, with over hundreds of thousands of people visiting Santa Anita Park during its four summer weekends this year. Dates for next year remain to be announced.

626 Night Market is the largest night market in North America. It broke all attendance records during the Fourth of July weekend, when 105,000 people strolled through the market. Founder Jonny Hwang designed the market to evoke a sense of both familiarity for the San Gabriel Valley’s Chinese diaspora, and novelty for those who might not be as in-touch with Asian culture.

“We wanted to recreate the spirit and energy of the night markets in Taiwan with the 626 Night Market,” Hwang said in a 2014 interview.

That’s not bad for an event whose first year was plagued by accusations of chaos and mismanagement. The 2012 markets were originally held in Old Town Pasadena. Clogged streets and unexpectedly large crowds prompted serious backlash on social media.

“We had 8,000 Facebook fans on April 14, and that’s what we expected,” Hwang said that year. “But how do you prepare for 8,000 versus say, 30,000?”

They adapted to the crowds by moving to Santa Anita Park’s parking lot in 2013, and invited Filipino artist Joseph Vincent, among others, to perform on stage. The Market has preserved its tradition of combining local vendors with national artists, with a special performance by America’s Best Dance Crew veterans the Kinjaz slated for this Sunday night.

Marketing Coordinator Holly Nguyen said that it’s not just the big stars that have kept the market afloat. This year, the market featured a diverse new offering of food and drink vendors. Now, churro stands happily share the parking lot with boba and korean fried chicken.

For its final evening on Sunday, the Night Market will have extended hours, closing at 1 a.m.

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