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
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
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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