First SF Miss Chinatown, now 99, honored with crystal crown 76 years later

First SF Miss Chinatown, now 99, honored with crystal crown 76 years laterFirst SF Miss Chinatown, now 99, honored with crystal crown 76 years later
via KPIX
Michelle De Pacina
18 days ago
Penny Wong, who made history 76 years ago as the first Miss Chinatown, was honored with a crystal crown by senior dancers to replace her original paper one. 
Key points:
  • Wong, 99, was crowned the winner at the first Miss Chinatown USA beauty pageant in 1948. However, she was only awarded a paperboard crown as organizers at the time lacked a clear plan on how to properly celebrate their beauty queen.
  • The Miss Chinatown contest is akin to the Miss America pageant for Chinese Americans, organized by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, a civil rights group.
  • Recently, the spotlight once again shone on Wong. She was honored by the Grant Avenue Follies, a group of senior dancers, with a remarkable gesture – a crystal crown.
The details:
  • “She was the first to be in a bathing suit to win a contest. That was a no-no in 1948,” Cynthia Yee, who was inspired by Wong and became Miss Chinatown San Francisco in 1967, told CBS News. “She just made important strides and steps for Chinese American women. It’s been a long time. She deserves a crystal crown, don’t you think?”
  • Yee is the founder of Grant Avenue Follies, who call themselves “GLAM-mahs” from San Francisco‘s golden age.
  • Wong’s boldness paved the way for future generations of Chinese American women, earning her admiration and respect. She and her late husband were proprietors of a nightclub and various other businesses in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where she spent the majority of her life.
  • Despite experiencing some hearing and memory loss now, Wong continues to enjoy life, attributing her longevity to staying hydrated and living fully. Wong has three children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
  • “I don’t call myself a celebrity. I’m just like everybody else,” she said. “I just had a little more fun, that’s all. I had a lot of fun and to this day I still have a lot of fun.”
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