The Portland Lee Family Association was established around 1881 in the back of a business owned by a Lee. The membership grew and they bought their first building in Chinatown at NW 3rd and Davis St. This building burned down in 1960. In early 1970, they bought another building at SE 24th and Ankeny St. They remained there for 20 years. The membership continued to grow, and the building became too small for their needs. In 1989, a group headed by Dr. Sam Won and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lee began to search for a new building. With donations from local Lee members and help from the San Francisco Lee Family Association, they were able to purchase and remodel the current building at 1101 SE Salmon St. in 1990. A Grand Opening celebration was held on August 3rd, 1997. The Lee Family Association Youth Group of San Francisco performed the Lion Dance at this event.
The Portland Lee's Association Lion Dance Team was founded in April, 2004 by Mr. Ken Lee, who imparted his lion dance knowledge and experience to Mr. Terry Lee, the Head Coach of the team. He is currently assisted by Coach Eric Lee. In December 2006, the coaches travelled to Guangdong Province, China to further their knowledge of Southern, or Cantonese Lion Dance. They trained with lion dance masters and champions in Taishan City and observed lion dance in Fut Shan and in Hong Kong. They toured two lion dance factories and a drum factory and returned to Portland with four custom made lions. A second trip to China was made in 2014 for additional training in traditional lion dance. Most recently, in the summer or 2016, Coach Terry Lee brought three students to San Francisco to train in contemporary lion dance with Yau Kung Moon Kung Fu Association at the Lee's Youth Group training hall.
The Portland Lee's Association Lion Dance Team has performed at thousands of events and is in great demand for performances throughout the year.
Following is a list of some of the events and venues the team has performed at: Grand Opening of Kam Wah Chung Museum in John Day, Oregon Convention Center, Portland Classical Chinese Garden, World Forestry Center, Portland Art Museum Ballroom, KPTV Good Day Oregon Show, OMSI Gala 2007, Portland Hilton Hotel Grand Ballroom, Montgomery Park, Grand Opening of University of Oregon Portland Campus, Oregon State University, Reed College, Lewis and Clark College, University of Portland, Portland Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races, Oaks Amusement Park, Under the Autumn Moon Festival Parade and World Stage, Swift Grants Gala 2006, Chinese New Year Cultural Fair, Acadian Ballroom, Port of Portland Event, Families with Children from China Chinese New Year Festival, 2007 Executive Officers' Club Summer Social, Ridgefield 4th of July Parade, Oregon Golf Club, Crown Ballroom, World Animal Festival at the Oregon Zoo, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association Annual Picnics, The Dalles Cherry Festival Parade, Portland Parks and Recreation Events, Yoshida's Asian Invasion Event, Woodstock Neighborhood Picnic, Lee's Association Annual Picnics, Gerding Theater at the Armory Grand Opening, Oldtown/Chinatown Festival Streets Grand Opening, Sandy Mountain Festival Parade, Waterfront Park, Legacy Fountain Dedication, Oregon Fujian Sister State Association Fundraiser, and numerous school events, business grand openings, Chinese New Year banquets, wedding receptions, birthday parties, anniversaries, and multi-cultural events.
The Portland Lee's Association Lion Dance Team was invited to participate in the 2009 Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. That same year, Coach Terry Lee formalized an agreement with the Portland-Suzhou Sister City Association and the Lee's Association Lion Dance Team was given custody of the Golden Dragon, a gift from Suzhou, China to it's sister city Portland, Oregon. Thus, the Dragon Dance Team was founded and dragon dance was added to the team's repertoire. In 2010, the team's name was officially changed to Lee's Association Dragon & Lion Dance Team.
The Lee's Association Dragon & Lion Dance participated in the Portland Rose Festival Starlight Parade in 2010 for the first time and performed with illuminated lions and the Golden Dragon. The team was invited back a second time to perform in the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.
The Award for Best Marching Entry was won by the Portland Lee's Association Dragon & Lion Dance in their second Portland Rose Festival Starlight Parade appearance on June 4, 2011. Their banner, flags, lions, dragon and drum were all illuminated with twinkling colored lights. One week later, the team participated in their third Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade in front of a crowd estimated at 500,000 people.
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