by Alex Bocknek
Hundreds of local San Francisco residents began crowding the already busy
commercial section of Clement Street, between Fifth to Eighth avenues, by 10 a.m.
on Sept. 23 for the Richmond District’s first annual Autumn Moon Festival.
While this is not the only Autumn Moon Festival celebration in San Francisco, or even on
the west side of the City, with sister events in Chinatown and the Sunset District,
Assemblymember Phil Ting, District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, Community Youth
Center of San Francisco, Richmond District Neighborhood Center and the Clement
Street Merchants Association collaboratively organized the festival to bring the
celebration of Chinese culture to the Richmond for the first time.
“This is a very special time in Chinese tradition and we are so glad to be bringing
it to the Richmond District,” said Fewer at a press conference for the event on Sept.
21. “In the Richmond District, we have over 40 percent of our residents being
Chinese. It is ideal that we are hosting this in our neighborhood.”
This year’s festival was sponsored by AT&T, Recology, Toyota, San Francisco Association
of Realtors, Kaiser Permanente, Safeway, Tat Wong Kung Fu Academy, PG&E, World
Journal, Skylink and Comcast. One of the festival’s sponsors, AT&T, donated a $5,000
check to the Richmond District Neighborhood Center in support of the event.
Traditionally, the Autumn Moon Festival is the second most important celebration
in Chinese culture, surpassed only by the Lunar New Year. The moon festival honors the
Chinese Goddess Chang’e, a moon deity associated with immortality. It is a celebration of
harvest bounty, family and prayer, much like the American Thanksgiving.
While the formally observed date for the 2017 festival is Oct. 4, the Richmond
celebration featured many of the modern traditions associated with the festival,
including moon cakes, Chinese food and a red and gold balloon arch, in place of
standard paper lanterns.
More than 50 booths from local businesses, organizations and sponsors populated the
three block stretch, with a main stage at Fifth Avenue for speeches and performances.
The stage featured lion dancing and martial arts demonstrations, courtesy of Tat Wong,
as well as a dance routine from a local senior organization and singers performing
standards and pop numbers in Chinese and English.
The stage was hosted by Miss Asian California, Katie Melanie Lam, and Mark Chan, from
Sing Tao Radio.
Food artist and chef Jimmy Zhang (left) stands next to sculptures made out of fruit. Also enjoying the festival was SF police officer Devan Green, who gives a young boy a “high-five” for stopping by to say hello.
Chinese Deputy Consul General Ren Faqiang made a guest appearance to acknowledge
the importance of the event and the efforts of its hosts.
“Some of our staff at the Chinese Consulate live in your district,” Faqiang
said. “Festivals unite people. Festivals are better than war and conflict.”
The large turnout of families and locals throughout the five-hour duration of the
festival made a strong case in support of the deputy consul general’s observation.