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06 February 2020

Chinese American Pilgrimage in Historic Marysville, February 22 and 23

Photo by Jay Nixon - copyright Bok Kai Festival
The Chinese American Pioneer Heritage Committee hosts its third annual Chinese American pilgrimage to coincide with the Marysville Bok Kai Parade and Festival, celebrating the Lunar New Year on the weekend of February 22 and 23. The weekend’s activities include in-depth panels, activities, and exhibits on Chinese American culture, history, and genealogy.

The historic town of Marysville, in Yuba County, was at one time home to the second largest Chinatown in the United States. It was a hub for Chinese Americans who built the infrastructure of California—railroads, roads, wineries, mines, delta levees, water and irrigation systems and agricultural farmlands. The town’s Bok Kai Temple, founded in 1854 by Chinese migrants who came to work in the gold mines, is the oldest continuously operating Taoist Temple in the country, and the annual Marysville Bok Kai Parade and Festival, celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, is the longest continuously held parade in California. 

This year’s theme is “Lost Chinatowns,” remembering the nearly 100 communities destroyed because of anti-Chinese laws, racial violence, and economic displacement. “Join us as we rediscover the lost Chinese American communities of Pacific Grove/ Monterey, San Jose, and Stockton,” say the organizers.  Two days of extended cultural programming include a Chinese American Documentary Film Festival, walking tours of the historic old Chinatown, demonstrations of early Chinese immigrant cooking, historic photo exhibits, musical and theatrical performances.  The historic Bok Kai Temple, Old Chinese School Museum and Chinese American Museum of Northern California are all open to visitors this weekend. A Saturday Pioneer Dinner honors and networks with community leaders and activists.

Sunday is a full day of history panels and workshops. Organizers discuss the sharing and recording of family stories, genealogical research, historical memory, and community history.  Learn about the exciting work being done to digitally recreate our historic communities and change the face of how public history is done. Historian David Lei will display a multimedia digital mapping of 1905 San Francisco Chinatown.  University of the Pacific history professor Jennifer Helgren and her team demonstrate their virtual reality recreation of Stockton’s “Little Manila.” Brian Tom shares the history of the Chinese American Marysville pioneer families and descendants. There is a screening of Felicia Lowe’s award-winning documentary, “Chinese Couplets,” which explores the impact that the Chinese Exclusion Act had on her family. The day concludes with the traditional firing of the bombs and the chance to catch a “good fortune” ring at the Bomb Day festivities.

Special hotel rates are available in nearby Yuba City and Wheatland. For complete details, see the Eventbrite listing.

Copyright © 2020 by California Genealogical Society