History of the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant

History of the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant

It was Hawaii’s fragrant sandalwood that initially caught the attention of enterprising Chinese in 1789.  While some of these adventurous sojourners eventually returned to China, many settled, establishing families and businesses in Hawaii.  Their pride and skill in assimilating, while retaining their culture, provide the foundation which has propelled the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant to become one of Hawaii’s foremost Chinese cultural events.  The Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant provides young Chinese-American women an opportunity to deepen their understanding and appreciation of their Chinese heritage.

Each year, the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant organization seeks outstanding women of Chinese descent to represent the community as semi-finalists in the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant.  These semi-finalists receive training in Chinese history and culture, Chinese cooking, make-up, beauty and poise, interviewing, public speaking, self-defense, and personal development.  Through the help of numerous volunteers and experts in their fields, contestants are challenged mentally, physically, and spiritually during the months prior to the pageant.  In addition, participants develop valuable friendships that often last a lifetime.

Miss Chinatown Hawaii will represent the Chinese community in the Miss Hawaii pageant (a preliminary pageant for Miss America). The Miss America Pageant is the nation’s leading achievement program and the world’s largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women.

The Miss Hawaii Chinese will represent Hawaii in the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant, held in San Francisco during the Chinese New Year Festivities. Founded in 1958 by the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Miss Chinatown USA experience attracts women of Chinese ancestry from across the United States to compete for the title of Miss Chinatown USA.  The young women reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Chinese who play a vital role in our multicultural society. As the City of San Francisco celebrates the lunar new year, Miss Chinatown Hawaii will participate in the Miss Chinatown USA pageant, as well as the Coronation Ball and the San Francisco Chinatown New Year’s Parade which is named as one of the top ten parades in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA).

From 1958 to the late 1970’s, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii sponsored its 1st Princess from the Narcissus Queen Pageant to run as a contestant in the Miss Chinatown USA pageant. In 1977, the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce invited the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees to sponsor a contestant to represent Hawaii in the national pageant.  In December 1977, the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees organized the Miss Chinatown Hawaii pageant. In 1990, under the direction of honorary Mayor of Chinatown Sun Hung Wong, President of the Chinatown Merchants Association, the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Scholarship Pageant was created to administer the scholarship pageant.  The Chinatown Merchants Association, with the support of the Honolulu Chinese Jaycees, continued to produce the annual Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant.

Today, the Miss Chinatown Hawaii Pageant is a nonprofit organization run solely by volunteers, whose mission is to perpetuate the Chinese culture in Hawaii through awareness, developing leadership skills, public speaking, and participation in community service.  While participants deepen their understanding and appreciation of their Chinese heritage, the pageant provides young women with the opportunity to develop friendships as they work closely with former contestants and queens who serve as friends, role models, and coaches.


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