Mai Wah Society

The 2006 (Year 4703) Chinese New Year's Parade

In 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 China’s 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.

"It 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 States.

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 in China.

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 delegation.