Following the 1992 civil unrest, Chanchanit Martorell noticed the disinvestment in the Thai community of East Hollywood. She wanted to ensure that Thai people were seen and provided with opportunities to rebuild following the uprising. One of the ways she sought to do so was through cultural tourism. Martorell advocated for an official designation, money for beautification, and resources for small businesses. Her work is the reason Thai Town exists today.
As part of this cultural tourism, Thai New Years Festival is one of the largest festivals in the city. Every April, 13 blocks of Hollywood Blvd. are closed to make way for over 200 booths of food, art, and activities, a parade, five stages, and community services such as health screenings. There’s cooking demonstrations from top Thai chefs, Thai boxing matches, performances by Thai pop stars, and even a beauty pageant. The festival now attracts nearly 400,000 people, most of which are not of Thai descent
For one day, this part of East Hollywood is turned into a celebration of Thai culture. The festival provides a source of economic stimulus to the area while creating an opportunity for the Thai community to share their culture with the world.
A lot of American people came to Thai New Year. They say it's like coming to Thailand - the ``small`` Thailand. We put a lot of effort to do this. We do it for Thailand - Sriwong Ayasit