Wishes Come True at the Irvine Night Market

Jordan Lee and Shawyan Rooein

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Warm golden light streams across the lush green soccer fields at the Great Park, illuminating crowds of energetic children and families. As the sun dips behind the iconic Orange Balloon, pop-up tents and food trucks spring to life, and the air fills with the sound of swinging jazz music and a bustling nightlife atmosphere. The stadium gates open and crowds eagerly rush in for a taste of the inaugural Irvine Night Market.   

The Irvine Night Market was hosted by Make-A-Wish clubs from across Irvine high schools on Sept. 14 from 6- 11 p.m at the Orange County Great Park soccer arena, attracting approximately 1800 visitors throughout the night. 

The event featured food vendors, arts and crafts stations and family-friendly activities. These included Korean Bulgogi, Taiwanese dumplings, jewelry vendors and East Asian Henna painting, to name a few. All proceeds, excluding vendor profits, went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

WIth its rows of booths and food trucks and live music, the Market had a very lively and expansive feel to it. Partnering with the Orange County Soccer Club (OCSC), the Make-A-Wish club directed the entire event, with planning dating as far back as February.

“It really has nothing to do with us,” Orange County and Inland Empire youth engagement coordinator Michael Egras said. “[The five high schools] planned every single thing… Every single component that you see, every vendor, every craft, was actually chosen and then consulted by the high school’s [students].”

Apart from raising money for its cause to grant wishes to children with critical illnesses, event coordinators realized their actions meant more than filling up donation jars; they inspired and set a precedent for change in the community.

“We want to tell our community that yes, we are high school students, and yes, we are capable of change,” Make-A-Wish club president and senior Faith Nguyen said. “No matter how many people showed up, it was a success in our books because we brought the community together and showed what the power of a team of just high school kids could do.”

Though the market took place in a relatively small area adjacent to the OCSC arena, organizers plan on expanding the event to accommodate an even larger audience in the future. 

“[We want to] double it. Bring more people, more vendors, more posters. Honestly, just make it bigger and better,” Irvine High Make-A-Wish club president Milan Cotton said. “I hope it brings more awareness to the people of OC what the Make-A-Wish foundation does.”