PACIFIC GROVE — After two years away, and months of growing public recognition for the local Chinese community, Pacific Grove is poised to honor the city’s original Chinese settlers in its annual Walk of Remembrance this Saturday.
Fashioned to memorialize the Point Alones Fishing Village that mysteriously burned down in 1906, the event takes attendees on a mile-long procession to the village’s original site — and educates along the way.
This year’s walk is set to commence Saturday afternoon from the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, at the corner of Forest and Central avenues, with opening remarks beginning at 1 p.m. The Monterey Bay Lion Dance Team will then guide crowds along the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, ending at the Stanford Hopkins Marine Station near Cannery Row, where the Point Alones village once stood. There, two history experts from Stanford will discuss the intricacies of the village’s history. It’s scheduled to conclude by 4:30 p.m.
Together, the three-hour affair serves as not only a live reminder of Pacific Grove’s historic ties to the Chinese community but also an opportunity to grapple with the wrongs of the past. And, this year, in particular, a chance to heal.
Before embarking on Saturday’s walk, the event’s welcoming slate of speeches will include an apology from the city to the Chinese community for the treatment of Chinese settlers at the Point Alones Fishing Village. To be read aloud by Pacific Grove Councilman Chaps Poduri, the formal letter addresses a “history of structural racism and discrimination against Chinese immigrants, and their descendants, in Pacific Grove (that) reaches back over 170 years.”
Five months in the making, the document is a product of the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. It was unveiled and ultimately recommended for Pacific Grove City Council adoption by the task force last month.
The Walk of Remembrance is the first since the city ended the Feast of Lanterns following complaints that the annual festival appropriated Chinese culture.
Wednesday night, just ahead of Saturday’s Walk of Remembrance, the letter became official, as council members voted 7-0 to approve the apology resolution. It’s a moment that Randy Sabado, lead organizer of this weekend’s event, described as “historic.”
“Hopefully, this is the start of the healing process,” he said. “The pain won’t go away because of the apology, but it shows that Pacific Grove acknowledges the wrongs that were done. This is a learning process, where we can share each other’s cultures and, I hope, get better.”
With the help Asian American organizations and civil rights groups from across the area, Sabado took over organizing the annual walk this year after its creator and his wife, Gerry Low-Sabado, passed away last September.
Low-Sabado, a fifth generation descendant of Point Alones settlers, started the walk in 2011 alongside former Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia. Even prior to forming the event, and in the years that followed, Low-Sabado acted a fierce advocate for generations of local Chinese residents that have long felt the effect of prejudice and mistreatment.
Saturday’s walk will be the first without Low-Sabado physically present. But that won’t stop Sabado from keeping her memory alive.
“My wife passed away at a time when we couldn’t have a lot of people attend her memorial,” said Sabado. “This is, in a way, taking the place of that. It’s not only a remembrance of the village and the people that were affected, but also in memory of my wife and the work she did over the last 10-15 years.”
For more information about Saturday’s Walk of Remembrance, go to https://www.pacificgrove.org/events/community-events/walk-of-remembrance/1798.