The Cambrian

Chinese contribution to Cambria’s history celebrated

The Cal Poly Lion Dance Team performs on Dexter Lawn during an open house in 2004.
The Cal Poly Lion Dance Team performs on Dexter Lawn during an open house in 2004. The Tribune

Cambria Heritage Days at the Creekside Reserve will celebrate the community’s history, dating back to the 19th century, when Chinese immigrants helped build the county’s economy as miners, laborers and fishermen.

The event is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 27 in Cambria’s East Village.

The Chinese Temple (Association House) in Greenspace’s reserve will be open for tours as part of a program that includes a performance by the Cal Poly Chinese Lion Dance Team and a presentation by Sandy Lydon, professor emeritus of history at Cabrillo College.

The dance team will perform at 1 p.m., dancing across Center Street from the Historical Museum to the reserve, where it will perform a temple blessing. It’s a division of the Cal Poly Chinese Students Association, founded in 1957. The Lion Dance originated in ancient China, with the dragon serving as a symbol of good luck, frightening off evil spirits at the lunar new year.

Lydon will speak at 2 p.m. on “Feeding the Hungry Ghosts: A Celebration of Cambria’s Chinese Legacy.” The presentation will cover the story of Chinese immigrants and their families in Cambria, how their community came to be based around the Association Hall and their exclusion from the larger community, even from the local cemetery.

Lydon, one of the state’s top scholars on Chinese immigrants and their impact in California, is the author of “Chinese Gold: The Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region.” He will discuss the belief that the ancestors, or “hungry ghosts,” must be honored and fed for the community to prosper, and that Greenspace’s efforts at preserving the Association House and its history are helping to feed the spirits of the forgotten Chinese who were left behind.

Tea, Chinese moon cakes and almond cookies will be served at the event, which is free to the public and is a joint presentation of Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust and the Cambria Historical Society. For information, contact Connie Gannon at 805-927-2866, or go to the Greenspace website,