Night Market leaves families with cool prizes, fun memories and full bellies
On Saturday, Oct. 3, Yu Ming Charter School families transformed the humble blacktop and cafeteria of the Alcatraz campus into a raucous carnival playground and global food bazaar. The event was the Third Annual Yu Ming Night Market (育明夜市, pronounced yù míng yè shì), and it is one of the most anticipated school events of the year.
The night market is intended to give the school community a flavor for the traditional night markets of Asia, where young, old, and everyone in between often flock in the evenings to people watch, shop, sample delicious street food and beverages and play games of chance. The Yu Ming Night Market recreated this scene at school, offering parents, students, and friends the opportunity to – among many other things – try their luck at pachinko, gorge themselves on hot-and-crispy green onion pancakes, and bounce to their heart’s content in not one, but TWO, jumpy houses! Yu Ming families got a well-deserved chance to socialize and meet other parents, let the children safely run around and explore the night market booths, and, of course, eat, eat, and eat!
Amy Woo Lee and Hannah Le Tarnas, our intrepid parents co-leading the organization of the night market this year, first realized that the event was more successful than even they anticipated when parent volunteers ran out of the 8,000 food and booth tickets that they were selling at the door, and had to run around collecting used tickets to resell.
“I thought 8,000 tickets would surely be enough, but then we had to scramble around because we needed more,” said Woo Lee, reporting that the event ultimately sold or handed out almost 9,000 tickets. Students were able to trade in a total of 3,395 “gotcha” tickets for night market tickets. That’s a lot of good behavior!
The organizers estimate that the event raised more than $5,600, and they thank the numerous parent volunteers who were so generous in donating their time, energy, cooking skills, money, equipment, prizes, and creativity.
Every grade hosted a game or activity booth, and children had a wonderful time throwing sticky balls at targets, answering trivia questions after reaching down into sticky spaghetti to fish pebbles out of the “brain” tub, and tossing ping pong balls. The most popular game booth turned out to be the fifth-grade spinning wheel, which collected a whopping 895 tickets. Prizes at the booths included adorable Japanese eraser sets, ball-and-paddle toys, and much, much more. In addition to the games, the children enjoyed a face-painting booth and a photo booth where they could use funny props to mug for the camera.
One of the most popular attractions was, not surprisingly, the food. At certain points in the evening, the cafeteria was so crowded that it was almost impossible to fight your way to the food. But we all somehow managed. The food booths together collected more than 3,000 tickets!
On the blacktop, Yu Ming dads slaved over hot camp stoves to fry up an endless stream of fresh green onion pancakes and potstickers. In the basement cafeteria, night market attendees chowed down on an amazing smorgasbord of food ranging from American standbys like chili and pizza, to Asian night market classics like pork buns and curried fish balls.
One treat was a lemony jello-like dessert beverage called愛玉冰 (or 爱玉冰, pronounced aì yù bīng). Kids reveled in the school’s one-night suspension of its wellness policies against processed sugar, and eagerly spent down their tickets buying brownies, candied apples, Minion cookies, and pink-frosted cupcakes. Kids and parents alike waited very, very patiently and longingly for one parent’s enticing slushy machine to chill down sufficiently to dispense its mango and guava delights. Sadly, the slushies were gone within a matter of minutes.
The Third Annual Yu Ming Night Market was a wonderful community-building celebration, and families are surely looking forward to next year’s event already.