Republished with permission from Jacksonville Review
What is this creature? It has the head of a camel, the horns of a stag, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of a cow, the body of a snake, the scales of a fish, the claws of an eagle and the paws of a tiger. And although it looks fierce, it brings harmony, good luck, and strength. It is the Chinese dragon, one of the most powerful mythological creatures in Chinese folk lore.
The Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association (SOCCA) now has its very own dragon. This is possible due to the efforts of David Lei, the Vice Chairman of the San Francisco based Chinese American Community Foundation. Mr. Lei had visited a SOCCA Chinese New Year celebration a few years ago and was impressed with SOCCA’s mission and decade long efforts in sharing the Chinese culture with the Southern Oregon community. On behalf of SOCCA, Mr. Lei lobbied Mr. Harlan Wong, who is a member of the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce and is the Southwest Airlines CNY Festival and Parade Director. Then, about a year ago the San Francisco Festival decided to donate this much-loved dragon in support of SOCCA.
The “Mighty One” was part of a group of dragons purchased in GuangZhou, China for the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade in 2000, the Year of the Dragon. After many years of service, it had been retired. To coax it to come out of retirement, the dragon was recently transported to beautiful Southern Oregon and was given a make-over. Kathy Greene, a SOCCA Board member, has led the effort to carefully restore the “Mighty One” and it is now ready to bring health, prosperity and good luck to our community. With an impressive head (measuring 4 feet high and 3 feet wide) and a body that is 61 feet long, it will inspire and thrill everyone at the Chinese New Year Celebration in Jacksonville.
Dr. Kathy Gong-Greene, whose parents came from Canton, China, is a 3rd generation Chinese who was born and raised in Central California. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation from San Francisco State University, and received a Master’s degree in Social Work from Fresno State University. She moved to Hawaii in 1990, where she worked as a therapist and obtained her doctorate from the American School of Professional Psychology in Honolulu. Dr. Greene has 40 years of experience in the field of mental health and is currently self-employed in private practice as a Licensed Clinical Psychologist for the State of Oregon. She moved from Hawaii to Southern Oregon in 1999 where she joined the Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association as a board member and active volunteer. Dr. Greene teaches hula for Hula O Nuku ‘Aina (a Hawaiian-dance group) in Grants Pass, and enjoys playing the fiddle. She lives in Medford, and has been married for the past 25 years to Dr. William Greene who is a professor in the Education Department at SOU.