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Colorful lanterns part of effort to lure tourists back to New York's Chinatown

Funding for the effort came from the community's residents and businesses.

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — Every Olympics, 13News likes to take you to the host country and share stories of the people who live there and their culture.

The pandemic made a trip to China difficult this year, so we pivoted and discovered the Spirit of China here at home in the United States.

We found there's a new effort underway to lure people back to Chinatown.

After the pandemic dealt a difficult hand to the many small businesses around Manhattan's Chinatown, there's a grassroots effort to turn things around.

Business owners, friends and neighbors are hanging nearly a thousand colorful lanterns. You'll see them on the core streets of the neighborhood, and it's beautifying the area.

"Lanterns are beautiful, but those specific lanterns in Chinatown represent something deeper which is the friendship and community coming together," said Joanne Kwong at Pearl River Mart. "It just added some safety for our elders walking the streets. It just brightens up the businesses that were nearby, and it also created an immediate tourist attraction."

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The funding didn't come from the city or a corporation. The community raised all the money, usually in small, individual donations.

The lanterns became an Instagram sensation, a social media invitation to the world to come back to Chinatown and support businesses in this historic neighborhood.

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