ORIGIN OF THE MISS CHINATOWN USA PAGEANT

Stories of beauties and legends such as the Moon Goddess were part of Chinese literature and history for over four thousand years. It was only after World War II that the concept of a public judging and acclamation of grace, beauty and talent of the celestial maidens became an official event. Perhaps returning Chinese-American GI's, with a habit of looking at pin-ups, initially thought it was a good idea. In 1948, a Chinese organization, at a July 4th picnic, had a "Miss Chinatown" bathing beauty contest. This continued through 1952.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in 1953 decided to combine this contest in conjunction with the Chinese New Year Festival. The first "Miss Chinatown", in the year 1953, was Miss Pat Kan, daughter of gourmet restaurateur Johnny Kan. Her first publicity photo, used by wire services internationally, showed her not wearing a traditional cheong-sam, but a string of firecrackers. From 1953 through 1957 the title was bestowed only on San Francisco young women, since it was a local competition.

In 1958, the Chinese New Year Festival was becoming a popular annual event enjoyed by local San Franciscans and visitors from many parts of the country. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce took a bold step in converting the local contest to a national contest where young women from all over the country would be able to compete.

In 1958, it became the "Miss Chinatown, U.S.A. Pageant" and the first crown holder was June Gong from Miami, Fla. The pageant, patterned somewhat along the lines of the "Miss America" pageant, is a combined beauty-talent-fashion and quiz show. In the first competition, held in a Chinese theater, beauty suits were taboo. In the talent contest, one may see the contestants performing Chinese folk-dances, the latest American steps, singing, or playing musical instruments.

The search for contestants is initiated each fall by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Chinese organizations, business groups and colleges are invited to send in their entrants. Many cities send their own contest winner to San Francisco to compete. Once the entry is accepted, a sponsor helps defray some of the expenses.

Now, 55 years later the beautiful, talented and bright young women from throughout the United States are still coming to San Francisco during Chinese New Year to compete for scholarships and prizes in the annual Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. This year's winners will become goodwill ambassadors for the Chinese community throughout the new lunar year.

Here is a list of past winners:

Year

Miss Chinatown USA

Origin City & State

1958

June Gong

Miami, FL

1959

Leona Lee

Honolulu, HI

1960

Carole Ng

San Francisco,

1961

Irene Tsu

NY

1962

Darrah Lau

Honolulu, HI

1963

Shirley Fong

Honolulu, HI

1964

Josie Leong

Sacramento, CA

1965

Mary Tom

Jamaica, NY

1966

Jacqueline Chun

Honolulu, HI

1967

Marilyn Lew

San Francisco,

1968

Betty Wong

Sacramento, CA

1969

Carole Young

San Francisco,

1970

Marion lee

Honolulu, HI

1971

Linda Shen

Minneapolis, MN

1972

Trudy Young

Honolulu, HI

1973

Sandra L. Wong

Oakland, CA

1974

Pamela Fong

Sacramento, CA

1975

Jeannie Fung

San Francisco,

1976

Linda Sue Chun

Honolulu, CA

1977

Sandra L.Q. Mew

Honolulu, HI

1978

Stephanie Ann Lee

San Francisco,

1979

Glenda Tang

Columbia, SC

1980

Ronda Ching

Honolulu, HI

1981

Rose Chung

San Francisco,

1982

Stephanie L. Shiu

Lemoore, CA

1983

Sandra Young

Honolulu, HI

1984

Cynthia Gouw

Westwood, CA

1985

Audrey R. Liao

Baltimore, MD

1986

Amy Mae Woo

Sunnyvale, CA

1987

Cynthia Lee Kwok

San Francisco,

1988

Sylvia Shim

Honolulu, HI

1989

Lisa Chen

Montebello, CA

1990

Evelyn Ding

Houston, TX

1991

Jennifer Tung

Rodeo, CA

1992

Melissa M. Wu

San Francisco,

1993

Melissa Yeh

Spring, TX

1994

Ivy Hsu

San Jose, CA

1995

Jamie Chou

Berkeley, CA

1996

Grace Maa

Belle Mead, NJ

1997

Lori Young

Honolulu, HI

1998

Gwendoline Yeo

San Francisco,

1999

Karen Chen

Union City, CA

2000

Jennifer Lin Hong

Pearl City, HI

2001

Pamela Woon

Seattle, WA

2002

Andra Chung

Cupertino, CA

2003

Darah Annette Dung

Honolulu, HI

2004

Shan Chen

New York, NY

2005

Carol Chen

Dallas, TX

2006

Louise Suzanna Wu

Fremont, CA

2007

Betty Hsu

San Francisco,

2008

Ni Jiang

Bellavue, WA

2009

Cindy Wu

Houston, TX

2010

Crystal Lee

San Francisco,




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