LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Chinatown Firecracker Run is in its 44th year, and this time, you'll have the whole month to cross that finish line.

What You Need To Know

  • The LA Chinatown Firecracker Run had its first 10K run in 1978

  • The nonprofit event proceeds go to local schools

  • The event helps kick off 2022’s Year of the Tiger

  • Runners, walkers and bikers can complete the course throughout the month of February and track their finish times via smartphone app

Community partners recently came together to kick off the event and usher in the Lunar New Year. Although the event is virtual for the second time in its history, participants can register online, complete the course on their own schedule and track finish times via the smartphone app.

Roger On and his pal Sam Gee were on-hand in Chinatown for the kickoff. They are part of an elite few who have run in every single 10K run since the event started in 1978. Although On loves running, it's the friends he has made through the Firecracker Run over the years that keep him coming back.

“[The LA Chinatown Firecracker Run] actually gave us an opportunity to get together and keep up to date with what's going on in everybody's life,” On said.

On also noted that the Firecracker Run is the kind of family-friendly, community-based tradition that gets passed along through generations, as he and his buddies have done with their families.

“We all had kids and we then all brought our kids so it's actually developed into a large gathering,” said On.

On has kept all of his runner’s bibs, medals and participation certificates over the years. For the past 10 years, he and his pals have been running to honor the memory of friend Bob Hayman, who passed away before he was able to make it to the event.

“What happened a few years later, his wife, his widow, actually came down and ran the race as well,” On recalled.

The event has special meaning for many Angelenos and the Chinatown community, including Wilson Gee, whose family used to operate a restaurant in what is now called Chinatown Central Plaza. Gee is now a Firecracker Run board member and said the run helps to reengage the community, especially those who might not come to Chinatown that often.

“It reminds people of the culture of Chinatown, the history of Chinatown and also the needs of Chinatown,” Gee said, reminding us that 100% of the event proceeds go to support neighborhood schools.

Gay Yuen of the Chinese American Museum explained that the Firecracker Run is also the perfect way to help usher in the Lunar New Year, 2022 being the Year of the Tiger.

“To celebrate our heritage and to do it in such a healthy giving way, that has just been wonderful,” Yuen said.

Food plays an important part in observing the Lunar New Year, and most years, On looks forward to dim sum with friends after the run. But for now, that has gone virtual as well.

“We all got into a Zoom meeting, had dim sum in front of us, and we're eating just like we did during the regular race,” On said.

While the past two years have brought tumultuous change, the Lunar New Year is about looking forward and wishing for prosperity, and the LA Chinatown Firecracker Run is one way the community is keeping that spirit alive in trying times.