A 7.6-foot-tall bronze statue of martial arts legend Bruce Lee will be unveiled in Chinatown's historic Central Plaza at 7:45 p.m. Saturday as part of the annual nighttime celebration Chinatown Summer Nights, officials said.
The unveiling caps a three-year effort to bring a Bruce Lee statue to Chinatown, said Larry Jung, president of the Los Angeles Chinatown Corp., a business group that helped found Chinatown. In 2010, an effort to erect the statue at the Alpine Recreation Center failed over a disagreement on funding. Jung said he hopes the statue will highlight Lee's lesser-known history with the area.
Lee, a major influence on Hollywood's portrayal of Asian Americans, moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s. While playing Kato in an early television adaptation of the "Green Hornet," he opened his third martial arts academy in a studio at 628 West College St. in north Chinatown.
The statue was donated by the Bruce Lee Foundation, a nonprofit group formed to honor the martial artist's legacy. Jung said the statue's placement in Chinatown is special because it honors the area's history - Chinatown turns 75 this year.
Though the center of Chinese culture in Los Angeles has largely moved to the San Gabriel Valley, "we're kind of the old Chinatown, the heart and soul," Jung said.
The statue will be on display temporarily during Chinatown Summer Nights, a recurring summertime street festival with food vendors, live DJ sets, dancing and chef demonstrations. Jung said they need to raise $150,000 to permanently install the statue. They plan to build a seating area, a concrete plinth for the statue to rest on, and install plaques honoring other influential Chinese Americans.