For a rare couple times a year, some young Hmong children leave their jeans and T-Shirts at home in exchange for their finest Hmong clothes that sit in a suitcase in the closet otherwise.
They're members of a dance group that'll perform in front of a couple thousand people who will be traveling from all over the Midwest.
"It just makes me actually really excited, I just can't wait right now," exclaims Thong Vang, of the chance to perform a Hmong dance on stage.
Attendants will not only get to see dancers, but singers and young women compete in the Miss Hmong America pageant, which will test talent and knowledge of Hmong culture and language skills. Organizers say the intent is deliberate.
"It's just a sense of saying that our traditions are still here. The Hmong identity is still here. And everybody still cherishes it. It's something we should keep and hold on to," says Mary Kong, Hmong New Year organizer and president of the United Hmong Asian American Community Center, Inc. of Green Bay.
In China, Laos and Thailand where these children's ancestors come from, the Hmong people's only holiday, the New Year, is traditionally celebrated at the end of the harvest season.
But, here in America, where these children are creating traditions of their own, this new year celebration has become more about a chance to preserve their culture.
"Events like this bring them back to learning a few words or to integrate them to learn their own cultures again, so it's good to know that, to see that the kids are doing that," said Kong.
The Hmong New Year runs all day both Saturday and Sunday. It's open to the public.
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