Hailing from the great state of Texas, 17 year old Karen Li was crowned Miss Chinatown USA 2014 earlier this month. Li being one of the youngest winners in the pageant’s history plans to attend Harvard University in the Fall.
With high academic achievements and an extra-curricular schedule that keeps most teens overwhelmed, Li also works part-time as a tutor. Her journey to the stage started about a year ago and all of her hard work has surely paid off. Li took control of the stage with her graceful poise, wowed the audience with her amazing violin performance to Spring in Xin Jiang, and her response to the Q&A portion went without a hitch and because of that the judges had awarded her with not only the Miss Talent title, but also the title of Miss Chinatown USA.
In a quick look back, the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant began with twelve young ladies from six states embarking on a journey that would forever change their lives. For some delegates this pageant has been their very first on stage experience and for others this pageant has been something highly trained and anticipated. Having arrived six days prior to competition the twelve ladies took part in constant practice and dress rehearsals in preparation for the big show at the Palace of Fine Arts.
On the night of the pageant the ladies were judged on Introduction and Poise, Fitness and Form, Talent, and Question and Answer. The theme for this year’s pageant was Quest for Beauty / The Spice of Life with guest performer Angela Pang. Prior to each contestant and their opening introductions, each created a short cooking demonstration video about a favorite dish that is liked to have during the Chinese New Year. Although the judges were not given these dishes to taste, all twelve dishes looked very appetizing.
The day following the pageant, Miss Chinatown, her court, and the other delegates trekked up and down the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown to visit several family and benevolent associations. These associations have family and cultural ties back to China. In a couple of the visited associations the ladies and members of the visited associations paid respects to ancestors of the host association and engaged in ancestral worship (i.e. bowing, burning incense and symbolic paper money, and food and drink offerings).
Over the next several days, the ladies toured tourist attractions throughout San Francisco, visited and gave fruit to some patients at San Francisco’s Chinese Hospital, met and greeted the elderly at the On-Lok Senior Center, and made a few media appearances with KTSF, Sing Tao Daily/Radio, World Journal, and Fong Brothers Printing.
Two major events that followed the Miss Chinatown Pageant were the Coronation Ball and the Chinese New Year Parade. The Coronation Ball took place this year at the Hilton Union Square. Mayor Ed Lee gave a brief speech before the ladies received their trophies. Miss Chinatown Karen Li was awarded with AT&T’s Miss Innovation Award because she won the title of Miss Talent and received the LG G Flex smartphone. Macy’s also honored Miss Li with a monetary gift. In addition to all the awards that were granted, the Coronation Ball is when Miss Congeniality is awarded. She is selected by the delegates of the pageant. Miss Congeniality for 2014 was awarded to Tiffany Au representing San Gabriel, CA. Having the formalities of awards and speeches out of the way, Miss Chinatown and the other delegates each danced a song with local dignitaries and the ball continued as open floor dancing went on throughout the night.
The following night, Miss Chinatown did not have her parade rained upon as it occasionally happens during the Lunar New Year. The Chinese New Year Parade, one of the top viewed parades in the country, is the #1 leading night parade. Millions watched in person and on the air the parade’s 100+ units as the parade celebrated the “Year of the Horse”. As soon as the parade concluded, the skies wept a little, but did no help to California’s drought.
The results of the program are as follows:
Miss Chinatown USA; in addition to Miss Talent: Karen Li /Houston, TX
Miss Chinese Chamber of Commerce/1st Princess: Ka Man Lee / Seattle, WA
Miss San Francisco Chinatown: Mengying Liu / San Mateo, CA
Second Princess: Seun Seun Yim / Pasadena, CA
Third Princess: Judy Lee / San Francisco, CA
Fourth Princess: Kristen Hee / San Francisco, CA
Miss Congeniality: Tiffany Au / San Gabriel, CA
The Miss Chinatown USA Pageant has been a part of San Francisco’s history since 1958. The pageant presented by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce continues to provide young ladies the platform to promote self-empowerment through public speaking, acting, dancing, singing, etc. The pageant also strives to keep the preservation of Chinese culture, and allows the young ladies to participate in the community through various services and actions of goodwill.