It was a time of celebration and remembrance on Sunday during the Garden City Vietnamese Association’s New Year's, or Tet, celebration.

“The Vietnamese New Year celebration is more than just a new year. It is a combination of New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, everyone’s birthday, and the new years,” Mitch Young, president of the GCVA, said on Sunday. “It’s all put together in one big celebration. We would like to wish everyone a year full of happiness, prosperity and longevity.”

The event had Vietnamese food, music, dragon dances and the traditional “lucky money” was given out. Young said the lucky money can bring good fortune and blessings for the upcoming year to both the giver and receiver.

The event also included traditional Vietnamese rituals, including the burning of incense, which Young said is a way to pay homage to ancestors.

The celebration in the Garden City High School Commons Area drew nearly 150 people, which was a combination of Garden City’s Vietnamese community and local leaders and officials.

Garden City Mayor Roy Cessna, City Manager Matt Allen, Judge Pete Ramirez, Garden City Police Chief Mike Utz, and Finney County Sheriff Kevin Bascue were some of the special guests, along with several representatives from Tyson Fresh Meats.

Cessna said Garden City has a long history of embracing diversity in the community.

“We value the contributions you provide us in our community that make our community a better and stronger place to call home,” Cessna said to those who attended the celebration. “We recognize the traditions you bring to our community that make Garden City a better place to live.”

Utz said he and the police department have had a relationship with the Vietnamese community in Garden City for more than 30 years.

“For over three decades, we have had a relationship and embraced our diversity with the police department,” Utz said. “You have been an asset to us and have made sure our communities have worked together.”

It was in the late 1970s when Vietnamese immigrants first started coming to Garden City, Bascue said, noting it was the time when he was in high school.

“We got to know some of them as our classmates. Then, when I got out of college, my first job was at IBP — which is Tyson now — so I got to work with some that come from the Vietnamese community,” he said.

It was in 1984 when Bascue started working for the sheriff’s office, and for the last 22 years, he’s been the sheriff, where he’s continued working with the Vietnamese community. He's a frequent guest at the new year’s celebrations.

Young said during the celebration that the sheriff’s office also donated $500 toward the event.

Tyson plant manager Dennis Jones said he’s been attending the celebration for 36 years.

"It’s been a long time,” Jones said. “… Seeing the kids out here, that’s what it’s all about.”

Young also recognized Robert Chung La, the former GCVA president who retired, and Chung La was presented a plaque.

“Mr. Chung La has served us 22 years…He’s been a legacy for us,” Young said. “He’s done an excellent job for us.”

Young said 2018 marks The Year of the Dog, which is one of the 12 Vietnamese zodiac symbols.

Contact Josh Harbour at jharbour@gctelegram.com.