CORONA DEL MAR — About 5,000 people filled Big Corona Beach on Tuesday evening to celebrate Persian New Year, filling the 27 beach fire rings with bonfires as part of an ancient tradition.
"It reminds me of my childhood in Iran," said Susan Mirzaei, of Newport Coast, who moved here in 1996.
Back then, families would have fires in their yards or streets. But because bonfires are illegal outside of beach fire rings, Corona del Mar has become a destination each year for Persian families throughout Orange County.
Mirsoltani Nematollah, of Laguna Hills, set up a table near the sand and filled it with traditional items: flowers, a goldfish bowl, coins, colorful eggs, grass, apples and a calendar noting the year 2570.
"It's a symbol of New Year," he said. "In Iran, all homes have this. I bring it every year."
Danube Marandi, of Big Canyon, said she has been spending Persian New Year at Big Corona for years, even before she moved to Newport Beach.