HONOLULU - The annual "Night in Chinatown Festival and Parade" celebrating the Chinese New Year was suddenly canceled due to a lack of funding. On Tuesday, just days before the event, the Chinese Merchants Association sent out a letter announcing the cancellation.

"We're very sad to have to cancel it, but without vendor participation and without our merchants providing donations to the organizers to offset these expenses we had to make a fiscal call and be financially responsible, and so we had terminate for this year,"  said Gifford Chang of Chinese Merchants Association.

Chang said in the letter "The Night in Chinatown festival and parade has been a legacy event for the community and last year we barely squeaked by in paying our expenses." The letter goes on to say that grant money to help fund the festivities is no longer available.

Chang told Island News this year only about half the amount of the festivals vendors had signed up, compared to the nearly 30-plus needed to make the festival and parade possible. He adds that over the last two years vendor fees have increased to offset increasing expenses, which may have resulted in a lower turn out.

The parade and festival, which celebrates the Year of the Dog, was scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 10. Some Chinatown merchants tell Island News they're worried the sudden cancellation will cause them to lose customers. 

"Personally, for myself, it's very sad to hear about," said Loretta Le, owner of Lin's Lei Shop on Maunakea Street. "I think everybody, they sad, too because this is only once a year.. they come, they enjoy, they look at the lei and buy Chinese branches for the new year."

"Chinese New Year,  more people is here in Chinatown-- last year a lot of people come," business owner, Andy Zheng said.

Zheng and Lei of say DDJ Hawaii LLC and Hawaii Asian Art Auction's on Maunakea street, say while they're disapointed to hear that annual "Night in Chinatown Festival and Parade" is cancelled, they hope with other Chinese New Year festivities happening nearby that will still bring in customers.

"Of course if you don't have the celebration festival its little bit different for business, and I feel a little bit like upset, but its okay," Lei added. ""Business is business. You cannot help it, so just hopefully have more people come in."

The Chinese Merchants Association said it hopes to revive the Chinese New Year celebration next year.  

"We want to say postponed versus termination or cancellation, so the hope is still there," Chang said. 

While the parade is canceled, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce will still hold events to celebrate the year of the dog on Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.to 10 p.m. at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza.