this new Year of the Dog (Year 4703), the Mai Wah Society's Chinese
New Year Parade set off in a sudden blizzard on Saturday,
February 4th from the BSB County Courthouse at 155 W. Granite
Street. The parade was guarded by the ceremonial dragon donated
to Montana's Chinese community in 1998, a generous contribution
from the Republic of Chinas Overseas Chinese Affairs Commission.
The parade made its way east on Granite St. and then turned south
on Main Street to Mercury Street and then to the Mai Wah and
Wah Chong Tai buildings at 17 W. Mercury Street. Nearly 400 revelers
joined in the parade or lined the streets to cheer on the procession
and welcome the New Year. Refreshments, an open house, and about
10,000 firecrackers announced the New Year.
- The Butte, Montana Chinese
New Year's Parade continues to be a unique celebration taking
its place with the unchallenged title of being the shortest,
loudest (and often coldest) Chinese New Year's Parade in the
world. The celebration has grown over the years, but this year
it took a quantam leap with the help of honored guests. Students
and teachers from the Hope
Chinese School in Los Angeles, California traveled to
Butte at their own expense to help celebrate Chinese New Year.
is an honor for the citizens of Butte to have a school from so
far away want to share their cultural traditions with us,"
said Jim Griffin, Mai Wah Society president.
While in Butte, Hope Chinese School students performed fan and
ribbon dances at several locations around town. On Friday, February
3rd, the group visited local elementary schools. On Saturday,
February 4th the Hope Chinese School dancers gave two public
performances that provided the Butte community the opportunity
to join in the Chinese New Year's festivities being organized
by the Mai Wah Society.
The first public performance was be held in the Butte Plaza Mall
with Irish dancers and Native American dancers featured as well.
The second performance was held in the BSB County Courthouse
rotunda. Following the uptown performance, the students joined
the short blustery parade as the Grand marshalls of the Mai Wah
Society's 13th annual Chinese New Year Parade.
Hope Chinese School's Principal Values Butte's Chinese Heritage
Hope Chinese School's founder and current principal, Helena Yau,
believes the journey to Butte will also provide her students
with the opportunity to learn about the Chinese heritage of the
area. She was warmly impressed with the work of the Mai Wah Society's
volunteers to preserve and to educate about the history of the
Chinese in Butte. Principal
Yau believes that Hope Chinese School students should be exposed
to this unique aspect of their ancestors' history in the United
Principal Yau said, "This trip is important to my students
because they will be both teachers and learners during their
stay in Butte."
Helena Yau established the Hope Chinese School in 1995. The goals
of the school are to teach the American-born children of Chinese
immigrants about their cultural heritage and to encourage students
to work towards international understanding. Principal Yau's
school serves over 150 students. They attend regular public schools
throughout the Los Angeles area during the day, and at night
and on weekends they attend classes at the Hope Chinese School.
Classes cover a wide range of Chinese language training, tutoring
in English and mathematics, and cultural studies with an emphasis
on fine and performing arts. Ms. Yau's students span the full
range of K-12 grade levels. Hope Chinese School students have
performed throughout southern California and in Asia.
In 1993, Ms. Yau received recognition
as an Ambassador for Peace by the United Nations.
Radio and Television Media Accompany Delegation
Because of the significance that Principal Yau is giving to her
students' trip to Butte, media outlets from California and China
accompanied the delegation. A Los Angeles radio station broadcast
from Butte. Additionally, China's national television network
covered Butte's Chinese New Year celebration for broadcasting
Hope Chinese School Parents Underwrite Airfare Expenses
All of the in-school and public performances by the Hope Chinese
School students were free. The School's parents believe that
exposing their children to Butte's Chinese heritage and honoring
Butte's efforts to preserve this history is so important that
they fully covered the cost of roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles.
The Mai Wah Society is humbled by the generosity and commitment
of the School's parents to make this Chinese New Year celebration
one of the largest in the Society's history. The Society is now
seeking individuals and businesses who believe in the value of
this rare cultural event to join with its members in sponsoring
the expenses associated with hosting the Hope Chinese School