Bay Area Life

Life through the viewfinder


MISS CHINATOWN USA 2014: A New Queen Is Crowned

Miss Chinatown USA 2014 Karen Li.

Miss Chinatown USA 2014 Karen Li.

Hailing from the great state of Texas, 17 year old Karen Li was crowned Miss Chinatown USA 2014 earlier this month. Karen Li being one of the youngest in the pageant’s history plans to attend Harvard University in the Fall. Miss Li with high academic achievements and an extra-curricular schedule that keeps most teens overwhelmed, she’s doing all of it and working 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.

Miss Chinatown USA with the other delegates.

Miss Chinatown USA with the other delegates.


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.

Karen Li performing Spring in Xin Jiang.
Karen Li performing Spring in Xin Jiang.
Mengying Liu elegantly dances for her talent.Mengying Liu elegantly dances for her talent.
Jessalyn Lau demonstates her martial arts skills.Jessalyn Lau demonstates her martial arts skills.
Ka Man Lee sings her heart out to "I Dreamed A Dream".Ka Man Lee sings her heart out to “I Dreamed A Dream”.
Jessalyn Lau from Hawaii generously receives personalized gold jewelry and she offers her association with a gift in return of leis and treats.Jessalyn Lau from Hawaii generously receives personalized gold jewelry and she offers her association with a gift in return of leis and treats.
 Miss Chinatown and the delegates at an association visit.Miss Chinatown and the delegates at an association visit.
Miss Chinatown Karen Li and Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Kenny Tse with the first dance.Miss Chinatown Karen Li and Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Kenny Tse with the first dance.
Local dignitaries and Miss Chinatown delegates with their first dance.
Local dignitaries and Miss Chinatown delegates with their first dance.

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Laugh For Lives (a comedy show benefit)

The Asian American Donor Program presented the 5th Laugh For Lives last Friday night, a comedy show benefit at the Palace Fine Arts to help raise money, awareness, and to get people registered in the Bone Marrow Donor Program. The event featured 5 comics; Mark Zhang (guest comic emcee for the evening), Shawn Felipe, KT Tatara, Danny Cho, and Eliot Chang. DJing the evening was DJ RJ “kool raul” with a special appearance from Flower, a donor who was able to reach out and supply bone marrow for her intended recipient.

Throughout the evening, guests were given the opportunity to register to be a bone marrow donor in the lobby of the auditorium. With nearly all of the seats being sold out and being a great turn out, the awareness of this program reached many.

The evening was filled with non-stop laughing that had people at the edge of their seats with jokes from Japanese, Korean and Chinese comedians. Though some of the jokes were dirty, a majority of the audience related to them and had a good time. The attendees ranged in age and so despite some of the off-the-wall jokes, I believe everyone left feeling happy and pleased to support a great cause.

If you would like to know more about the Asian American Donor Program, please visit their website at

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Miss National Asia Pageant 2010

Miss National Asia 2010 (click here for images)

The Miss National Asia Pageant is an national Asian pageant that is held locally in San Francisco. The pageant is in it’s fifth year and was held at the San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. The show consisted of four segments: Ethnic Costume, Swimsuit, Evening Gown (Question and Answer portion + Platform Speech); there was also an optional talent segment with four contestants competing for the title of Miss Talent.

The pageant results are as listed below:

Miss National Asia: Michelle Nguyen

First Princess: Mari Saleh

Second Princess: Phan Nguyen

Third Princess: Ashley Yu

Miss California Asia: Mari Saleh

Miss Talent: Phan Nguyen

Miss Charity: Michelle Nguyen

Miss People’s Choice: Michelle Nguyen

Other Contestants: Bianca Doria, Selena Du, Jana Hsu, Leena Nguyen, Grace Shao

Pictures of the Miss National Asia Pageant can be seen by clicking on the picture link above. If this post was informative and helpful, please feel free to leave me a comment or donation below. Thank you.