NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Chinatown has always been a hot spot for tourists and great food, but many have stopped coming to the area since December, when COVID-19 hit overseas.

Now, as CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reports, the community is getting down and dirty to clean the streets.

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Karlin Chan opened a fire hydrant for a short time so volunteers could scrub the streets with brooms.

“I was having lunch one day and I noticed, the streets were kind of dirty, and it kind of reminded that I have not seen a streetsweeper down this neighborhood in months,” said Chan, who’s lived there for more than 60 years.

He was sick of the mess and used social media to spread the word about a neighborhood cleanup on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. – before restaurants open for curbside dining.


Karen Jackson and her daughter, Amelia, showed up dressed in a bathing suit and rain boots.

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“She had a great time. First of all, maybe that’s the biggest lesson… it doesn’t have to be painful to help out your neighbors or help out in your community,” said Jackson.

“Chinatown is coming back. We just want everybody to know that, and that we have curbside dining, open restaurants,” said Chan. “I’d like everyone to come down and get your Chinese food fix.”

Volunteers said they plan to keep cleaning the neighborhood every Saturday starting at 7:30 a.m. at Mott and Bayard Streets.

Other locals are trying to keep business alive; some even put out a video letting people know Chinatown is open.

Roy Chan, co-owner of Kong Sihk Tong, was putting the finishing touches on his curbside dining area.

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He said, “We have to be optimistic no matter what.”