Providing the festival’s final performance, Leung’s White Crane Dragon and Lion Dance Association prepare to start a parade down Grant Ave. to celebrate the 31stannual Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown on Sept. 12, 2021. “For the past 31 years, we’ve been trying very hard to bring business back into Chinatown,” entertainment coordinator Cynthia Yeesaid in regard to the curation of the Autumn Moon Festival. (Morgan Ellis/Golden Gate Xpress)
Providing the festival’s final performance, Leung’s White Crane Dragon and Lion Dance Association prepare to start a parade down Grant Ave. to celebrate the 31stannual Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown on Sept. 12, 2021. “For the past 31 years, we’ve been trying very hard to bring business back into Chinatown,” entertainment coordinator Cynthia Yeesaid in regard to the curation of the Autumn Moon Festival. (Morgan Ellis/Golden Gate Xpress)

Chinatown’s 31st annual Autumn Moon Festival returns after a year tucked away

September 13, 2021

The San Francisco Chinatown Merchants Association hosted the Autumn Moon Festival this past weekend, on Sept. 11 and 12. Spanning from cross streets Broadway to California, Grant Avenue was closed to vehicles so that community members could freely enjoy specialty foods like moon cakes, vendors and performances.

The Autumn Moon Festival holds thousands of years of cultural significance. The moon is respected and worshiped as a symbol of bountiful harvests in the fall because of its historic relationship with water and fertile soil, according to the Moon Festival website.

The first celebration of the Autumn Moon Festival in San Francisco’s Chinatown occurred in 1991 as a way to bring people and business back into the area following the economic consequences of the detrimental 1989 earthquake.

“After the earthquake, they shut down the freeway,” Cythia Yee, the festival’s entertainment coordinator, said. “And that was the only way to get to Chinatown … so for the past 31 years, we’ve been trying very hard to bring business back into Chinatown,” Yee reflected.

Yee, a dancer in the Grant Avenue Follies, has held her position as the entertainment coordinator since its inaugural year in 1991. In addition to a performance by the group, there were also other musical performances, such as one from Flora Hui, a 21-year-old singer dressed as the Moon Goddess.

“My favorite part would be having everyone be out since it’s been like a whole year because of the pandemic,” Hui said. “I’m just so glad to see everyone be out here again, you know, with our community.”

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