Will Smith helps Light Up Chinatown complete Phase 1 of streetlight initiative

CHINATOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- After two months raising funds for the Light Up Chinatown initiative, community partners on Wednesday announced the successful completion of having lights and lanterns up on Mott Street in time for the holidays.

The historic project brought together intergenerational group of business and civic leaders, talented artists, dedicated advocates and activists to safeguard Chinatown's recovery from the pandemic.

It also included a significant contribution from award-winning actor and musician Will Smith.

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The Light Up Chinatown initiative was the brainchild of Patrick Mock, community advocate and manager of 46 Mott Street Bakery.

"We need confidence out here and this is a confidence boost for the neighborhood," Mock said. "So this is like my light up Chinatown project."

It aims to adorn and light up the streets of Chinatown with the hopes of inspiring visitors and members of the community alike, reminding the city that Chinatown is open for business.

On Tuesday, through his #WillAtHome Snapchat platform, Smith featured Mock and his work to lift up the Chinatown community, including the Light Up Chinatown project.

Smith announced $10,000 contribution to the initiative from Asian Americans For Equality.

"The recognition that I got from Will Smith, for Chinatown, and for everything I'm doing, you can't beat that right now," Mock said.

Mock, in partnership with Jenny Low, Chung Seto of UDO, Winston Chiu, Joanne Kwong of Pearl River Mart, Send Chinatown Love, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Think Chinatown, The New York Chinese Cultural Center (NYCCC), and the Chinese Community Benevolent Association (CCBA), began with a goal to raise enough funds to install 14 to 16 sections of lighting on Mott Street from Canal to Bayard, with lanterns hung throughout.

Send Chinatown Love facilitated a fundraising campaign to support the "Light Up Chinatown" initiative, wherein patrons donated funds to "Adopt-a-Lantern" for $45 and have a personalized lantern hung on Mott Street in their name.

For donations of $150 or more, patrons will receive an additional lantern to take home as a keepsake.

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Pearl River Mart generously provided the lanterns at cost and brought together local artists from Think!Chinatown and the New York Chinese Cultural Center to create a colorful and stunning installation of personalized lanterns for all to enjoy.

Together, the community partners found a way to bring light to Chinatown, where the lanterns will shine bright through the dark days of winter.

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