BLOG: Publisher Ng’s Lunar New Year Awards — And the winner is …

By Assunta Ng

The crowd at the Bellevue Square Lunar New Year Celebration (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

Over 50 local Lunar New Year events took place in February, and they were all competing for attendees and attention. So, which one had the better food, larger crowds, strongest organization, and the most memorable performances?

Instead of having you read over 50 articles on all the events, I’ll save you time by giving you my synopsis of these community groups’ annual new year functions and handing out my own personal awards. The recognitions behind these events will help you learn more about these organizations and the community.

Bellevue Deputy Mayor Jennifer Robertson and Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee at Bellevue Square (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The Best News Award

Congratulations to Seattle’s Lee Family Association. It had so much good news recently that it has become the envy of all the other family associations.

First, the dream of the Bruce Lee Action Museum may materialize in Seattle soon. Next, Leah Li (Lee and Li have the same Chinese character) was crowned the 2013 Miss Chinatown USA and Miss Talent in San Francisco. Now, the association is planning to buy a permanent home with blessings from the national Lee Family Association. Last year, it celebrated the winning of two mayors in the States, Mayor Conrad Lee of Bellevue and Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco.

Of course, the Seattle Chinese Chamber should also share in the Best News Award as they sponsored Li’s trip to the Miss Chinatown USA pageant.

The Leadership Award

This honor goes to the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Association (CIDBIA). With the help of dozens of volunteers, its three-member staff organized the largest ever festival in the history of Lunar New Year festivals in Seattle. Over 15,000 folks, nearly double of last year’s count, showed up. Many restaurants were packed with lines flowing outside their doors.

One of the reasons BIA did so well was the amount of publicity the festival received from the Seattle Times and other media. The Times’ prominent coverage began on Friday and continued through the weekend.

Perhaps BIA deserves another award. It has created a money-making machine for Chinatown’s businesses through its many festivals.

The Comeback Award

Some readers have been keeping track of which Chinese restaurants receive the highest number of big Lunar New Year banquets. The biggest banquets often go to Ocean City Restaurant, one observer said.

A few years ago, the restaurant was often not on the list for such celebrations, but it has since become competitive for bidding parties and banquets.

The Bellevue Square stage (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The Community Spirit Award

Huayin, a group of volunteer dancers and singers, have been performing in many Lunar New Year banquets. These performers don’t get paid much, but their enthusiasm is contagious. They provide the key programs for these banquets.

I imagine that without their shows, the dinners would be dry and boring.

The Gee How Oak Tin Family Assoc. and Lt. Gov. Brad Owen (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

The Honorary Asian American Award

Why did Lt. Gov. Brad Owen attend so many Lunar New Year events this year, more so than other years, even though this is his busiest time of the year, as he convenes over the legislative session and some banquets often only speaking Chinese?

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen at the Soo Yuen Benevolent Assoc. event with organizer Warren Chinn (front right), and his brother Kwong Louie (rear right) (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

a. He loves Asian food.

b. He has traveled to China with Warren Chinn and to India with Debadutta Dash and Habib M. Habib.

c. He has multiple connections with the Asian community.

d. The Asian community fundraised for his re-election campaign.

e. His two sons are Korean adoptees.

It’s all of the above. So the Hhonorary Chinese American Award goes to Owen.

From left: Stephen Lam, acting CISC Executive Director; Alvin Ma; and Janet Ung, CISC Board President (Photo provided by CISC)

The Most Opportunist Award

Congratulations to the Chinese Information and Service Center (CISC) on its 4th Annual Lunar New Year Walkathon, which this year was hosted at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School. Joan Yoshitomi has done a fabulous job in organizing the event. She gets the Most Opportunist Award for stealing New York Congressmember Grace Meng to attend CISC’s walk. Meng was originally invited by another group to come to Seattle.

The Beating the Odds Award

CISC’s executive director left last summer, but its staff has done a superb job in keeping the organization going. I was at the walk and saw how enthusiastic the volunteers and staff were. On March 9, CISC will organize the Sing-and-Dance fundraising event at the Ocean City Restaurant at 6 p.m.

Bellevue Square event organizer Taidi Fang (center right) with other volunteers (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The Community-Battle-for-Attention Award

The busiest day of the Lunar New Year for the Asian community wasn’t Feb. 9, which is Lunar New Year’s Eve, but rather Feb. 23.

Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and wife Linda at the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of Seattle event at the House of Hong Restaurant.

If you say the Asian community is diverse, just look at the Chinese community. You will be surprised how divided and uncommunicative it is. On Feb. 23, eight different groups of Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Toishanese, and American-born Chinese, organized eight different events. The events included CISC’s Walkathon, the Organization of Chinese Americans’ dinner, Bellevue Square’s New Year Festival, the Taiwan Chamber of Commerce’s party at the House of Hong Restaurant, the Suey Sing Tong banquet at Sun Ya Restaurant, the Seattle International Leadership Foundation at Shiao-Yen Wu’s waterfront house, the Sujia Association, and the AAPAT’s Spring Concert at Westminster Chapel in Bellevue. I was hopping around town for so many events, but I managed to go to at least all of those held in Chinatown.

By the time I was home, I couldn’t tell the difference between red and blue.

The Record-Breaking Award

This award goes to the Hong Kong Association of Washington State’s dinner on Feb. 9 at the Seattle Sheraton for its record-number of attendees. Over 900 people attended the dinner.

It also held the longest program compared to others. The event began at 5:30 p.m. and lasted until 11 p.m. with long speeches and a long program.

It also raised the most money compared to other events, over $250,000 for the Bruce Lee Action Museum.

Donnie Chin (center) accepting a $2,000 check from the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The Benevolence Award

Two organizations deserved to receive the Benevolence Award for their charitable donations. The Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s banquet at the China Harbor donated $2,000 each to the Kin On Health Care System and the International District Emergency Center (IDEC). Gee How Oak Tin, whose banquet was held on Feb. 24 at the Ocean City Restaurant, donated $1,000 each to Kin On, CISC, and IDEC.

The VIPs Award

The biggest New Year banquet inside Chinatown would be the Soo Yuen Benevolent Association’s. It opened up both the first and second floor of the Ocean City Restaurant with over 500 guests on Feb. 11.

Not only did Soo Yuen hold the largest banquet, it also had the most humanitarians in the room.

Its organizer, Warren Chinn, a Washington General himself, belongs to the organization with the same name, consisting of generals (members) whose community work received one of the highest and prestigious awards in our state. That night, many generals were floating around the crowd.

Gee How Oak Tin also deserves the VIP award for inviting three tables of mainstream elected officials, including port officials, state representatives, judges, and county and city officials.

Grace Meng at a private lunch hosted by Albert Shen at Sea Garden Restaurant (Photo by Assunta Ng/NWAW)

The Rising Star Award

Normally, I would give this award to a Washingtonian, but this year, I have to grant it to the newly elected Congress member, Grace Meng of New York.

She is down-to-earth, smart, and young. The purpose of her trip to Seattle was to observe and learn. Meng gave two examples of what she learned from Seattle at a private lunch at the Sea Garden Restaurant.

New York needs an English-language newspaper to cover the Asian community. Growing up in New York, she is aware that there were several Chinese-language newspapers available, but no English papers for the Asian community. As an American-born, she wished that she could find out more about what’s going on in the Chinese and Asian communities. She can speak fluent Mandarin, but is unable to read Chinese. When she found out that Seattle has two Asian community papers, and not just one, she was impressed.

In New York, there is an agency called the Commission on Asian American Affairs. In the whole state of New York, there is only one person who handles the Asian community, and this program is quite new, she said.

Carol Cheung and Bob Miller (center) won a round-trip ticket to Taiwan. (Photo by George Liu/NWAW)

The Nice Guy award

Carol Cheung and Bob Miller just recently moved to Seattle. They have never been to China Harbor Restaurant before, but they were curious about the Seattle Chinese community, so they decided to attend the Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s Lunar New Year dinner on Feb. 21. What they didn’t expect was that they would leave the restaurant with a plane ticket to Taiwan or another part of Asia from EVA Air.

The chamber was selling raffle tickets and the grand prize was a one round-trip plane ticket. Bob was so kind that in the middle of the dinner, he said, “I’ve got to buy some raffle tickets.” He bought $40 worth of tickets and gave each guest at his table a ticket.

Somehow, the lucky ticket ended on his wife’s plate.

Bob, Mr. Nice, was so thoughtful that he deserves a trip with his wife to Taiwan. (end)

To read the publisher’s blog in Chinese, visit

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