02/22/20 & 02/23/20 Marysville Bok Kai Festival & Lost Chinatowns Conference

By Brenda Hee Wong, 2020 CHCP Director

CHCP collaborated with the Chinese American Pioneer Heritage Committee on a conference held Feb. 22/23, 2020 to increase knowledge of the “LOST CHINATOWNS”, almost 100 communities abandoned because of Chinese Exclusion, discrimination, violence and economic displacement. The conference was held in historic Marysville Chinatown, once the second largest in the US, to honor the Chinese Americans’ role in building California—especially the railroads, roads, wineries, mines, delta levees, water and irrigation systems and agricultural farmlands. CHCP Director Brenda Hee Wong exhibited 24 panels and spoke of San Jose Chinatowns. CHCP Advisory Member Gerry Low Sabado did the same to recognize the Chinese of Pacific Grove/Monterey. Organized educational & cultural events were held in conjunction with the 140th Anniversary of the Bok Kai Parade, Bomb Festival, and Moo Lung, restored oldest parade dragon.

Bomb Day, or “Yee Yeut Yee” in Chinese, takes its name from the colorful firing of the bombs highlighting the celebration, which is in tribute to the Chinese Water God, The Bok Kai.  The video above shows one of 14 bombs set off that day along with thousands of firecrackers! A ring wrapped with red ribbon shoots out from the bomb which creates the mad dash to grab the ring which has a number attached for a special good fortune message.  The message is read to the owner of the ring back at the temple. The person able to grab the ring is rewarded with a big “li see”, a red envelope usually from a business that wants the good luck message.

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