The overcrowded racetrack parking lot leaving little room for attendees to walk between the hundreds of booths of food and accessories is the perfect reenactment of the bustling nightlife in Asia. Growing significantly in size from a block in Pasadena, the 626 Night Market celebrates its 5th anniversary this summer at Santa Anita Park. Not only do the visitors leave with happy stomachs, but they ‘re also able to experience a quick trip to the Eastern Hemisphere.
Reminiscing the busy night markets of Taiwan, Jonny Hwang began this night market venture in 2012. What began as an idea to create and unite the community quickly evolved into a reality. Jonny states that although the areas surrounding the 626 communities are flourishing with various Asian restaurants, many people are intimidated to approach and eat at these locations. Thus, by inviting the crowd-pleasing restaurants and food trucks to occupy this spacious venue, Jonny hopes for people of all backgrounds and ages to immerse themselves in the culture.
Becoming an immediate hit especially amongst teens, the 626 night market attributes a large part of its successful turnouts to its great presence on social media. Within half a decade, the number of attendees has increased by tens of thousands. Ironically, even though news of this event initially spread through Facebook, it isn’t as big as it used to be on the blue and white platform. Nowadays, word of 626 is shared largely through Instagram with the hashtag #626NightMarket, through bloggers and YouTubers that feature the event on their accounts, and through live video streaming on Snapchat. Following the changing trends of the generations, Jonny and his team understand how to most efficiently appeal to the public.
Ranging from the most popular Takoyaki trucks and pork belly buns to creatively shaped cotton candy and light bulb drinks, 626 isn’t just a platform aimed at filling the stomach. Jonny reveals a constant need for the evolution of ideas, always bringing in new foods and experiences for the community to enjoy. Large murals and colorful illustrations are a quick eye-catcher to all the passersby, as are the carnival games surrounded by children. In the midst of the tents selling traditional Asian trinkets and clothes lies a stage that showcases a dozen or so talents each night, all the more spicing up the night life for all to enjoy.
Be sure not to miss out on one of the hottest and appetizing attractions of the summer!