The Mendocino Beacon


- By Mary Benjamin

Lorraine HeeChorley, a direct descendant of Chinese immigrants who settled in Mendocino in the mid-1800s, announced the gift of a Community Foundation grant given to the Temple Kwan Tai's nonprofit organizati­on. The $2,100 grant will help fund the Temple's annual hosting of the Children's Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in Mendocino.

School children from the area's schools gather each year to parade their way along Main Street in Mendocino and then on to visit the Temple Kwan Tai on Albion Street. The young students have been well prepared for the day. Teachers have completed learning units about Chinese immigrant history. Students have designed traditiona­l banners, flags, and posters to carry in the parade. Others have made simple Chinese musical instrument­s to play. A few have managed to come dressed in traditiona­l Chinese regalia.

Along with the cacophony of children and their adult guides, a frisky dragon wiggles down Main Street, animated by volunteer teenagers.

A right turn pulls the children uphill to Temple Kwan Tai, a California Historical Landmark painted in traditiona­l Chinese red. There await docents ready to escort the children in small groups to glimpse inside a Taoist place of prayer that is more than 170 years old.

Putting on this annual event requires the financial means to pay for the costs inherent in this type of undertakin­g. The nonprofit that promotes and operates Temple Kwan Tai ensures that public schools that participat­e in the parade need not squeeze out scarce funds from their depleted budgets.

Even in Mendocino village, elementary students do not walk to the parade's starting point. Coming from the east side of Little Lake Road, they would have to cross Highway 1 on foot, an unsafe prospect that will always be out of the question. They arrive by bus as do other schools coming from other school districts beyond Mendocino.

Once taken for granted, now the use of school buses beyond bringing students to and from school has expenses attached. No longer a perk for public school students, as parents well know, bus use costs for field trips, regardless of distance, must be financed apart from a school district's budget.

The parade is one of many cultural activities the Temple sponsors for local students to learn about the history and influence of Chinese citizens in Mendocino.

This year, on February 16, 2023, the Children's Chinese New Year Parade will take place at 11:00 a.m. after a two-year hiatus due to COVID restrictio­ns. Lorraine Hee-Chorley is expecting classes of students from at least three schools to attend.

The Temple Kwan Tai board members will assist with student visits to the Temple, and the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department will manage traffic control.

The Temple Kwan Tai is in need of docents on the weekends from May to October to provide tours for visitors.

If you are interested, please contact Lorraine Hee-Chorley at 707-964-8271. Visitors are welcome during the open season on Saturdays from Noon to 3:00 PM and on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

 ?? SUBMITTED ?? Students wait for docent tour after the Children's Chinese New Year Parade.
SUBMITTED Students wait for docent tour after the Children's Chinese New Year Parade.

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