Leland Bridge Night welcomes the year of the sheep

Lions, dancing, fashion and sheep: the annual Leland Bridge fundraiser, held on Jan. 31, was a night of festivities and student performances to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb.19.

Leland Bridge is a Chinese/Taiwanese-American parent organization that helps raise money for the school. They have hosted Bridge Night since 2001, raising over $14,000 in ticket and raffle sales from the one night alone. The organization also helps with the school’s Cultural Fair and teacher appreciation luncheons.

This year, Bridge Night took place the day after Sadies, limiting crucial preparation time. The completely volunteer-run group entered immediately after the dance ended to take down the black and white decorations and adorn the cafeteria with their own red and gold streamers.

Student volunteers hosted, entertained and served all of the guests that night, while the parents took a backstage role. Many of the students who helped out were Chinese or Taiwanese, but students from different ethnic backgrounds also participated for the social and cultural experience.

“All of the parents constantly keep forgetting I can’t speak Chinese, even after a few years of helping out at Leland Bridge Night, so sometimes they tell me to do something and I just stare at them blankly,” Senior Gemma Takahashi said.

After months of preparation, the doors to the cafeteria finally opened and the first guests trickled in, taking seats at long tables laden with tangerines and pineapple cakes. Half an hour later, dinner was served – rice, mixed vegetables, chicken and fish – and the show began.

The night’s emcees, Seniors Ryan Chen, Lee Hsieh, Sally Shen and Angela Wu, introduced each new act and welcomed guest speakers, including Principal Deepa Mukherjee , SJUSD Board President Sandy Engel and San Jose City Councilmember Johnny Khamis. Leland Bridge President Annie Liu gave a speech about the club’s efforts and success.

The subsequent performances included vocal solos from Seniors Wei Chen and Stacy Liu and Junior Mary Zhang and a number of dance routines ranging from ballet to hip-hop to K-pop. Freshmen Ping Hsieh and Phoebe Yin performed a maramba duet and SeniorsRyan Chen and Lee Hsieh engaged in a Kung Fu duel over their love interest, Senior Michael Prazak , who wore a blue dress, red lipstick and a bow in his hair.

Bridge Night also featured a two-part fashion show, with styles inspired by different eras of the 20th century and the Phantom of the Opera . For the grand finale, the student volunteers, who had spent the last few hours serving the guests tea and dinner, crowded on the stage to perform a mass group dance to Jason Chen’s “Autotune.”

At the end of the night, as the emcees said farewell and the audience members began to leave the cafeteria, volunteers stood in a line to form a pathway, applauding them for celebrating the new year and supporting the community.