Chinese float to join Thanksgiving parade

Updated: 2014-11-19 03:09

By NIU YUE in New York(China Daily USA)

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Chinese float to join Thanksgiving parade

A group of American students watch a lion dance on the first Chinese float in Macy's 88-year Thanksgiving Parade history on Tuesday. Lu Huiquan / For China Daily

Beauty of Beijing will make history in Macy's parade

It took nearly two years of negotiations, but China will have its first float in the 88-year history of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is expected to be viewed by 3.5 million people on the streets of Manhattan and a national television audience of 50 million.

With a theme of The Beauty of Beijing, the float features landmarks of the Chinese capital, including the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall. A lion dance performance dual will also be on board.

The float is being sponsored by the Sino-American Friendship Association (SFA), a non-profit organization that focuses on strengthening friendship and understanding between the United States and China.

"Tourism is a bridge between two countries. Everyone, regardless of language, can feel the destination," said Li Li, executive vice-president of the association on Tuesday. "Through tourism, American tourists can also feel Chinese culture, because they are so connected."

More than 2 million tourists from China visited the US last year, and the US is the fourth-largest source of foreign tourists to China, after South Korea, Japan and Russia, according to China's National Tourism Administration.

Li said it took the association nearly two years of talks with Macy's to join the parade and almost four months to complete the float.

It will be accompanied by a marching band of around 130 from Staten Island dressed in traditional Chinese clothes. The band will perform Chinese songs, along with American Pride to demonstrate friendship between the US and China.

"Every float has its story," said Amy Kule, executive producer of the parade. A successful float has to be both "entertaining and good-looking," and China, with its tourist resources, is rich in such elements, she told China Daily.

The pageant of giant balloons, marching bands, clowns, celebrities and floats on Nov 27 is expected to be seen in person by 3.5 million people and on television by 50 million more as it works its way down a 2.65-mile route starting on 77th Street and Central Park West to Macy's department store on 34th Street, said Kule

"It's great to show kids another culture and symbols of another country," said Gina Cutrona, who is a teacher with the Paramus, New Jersey, public schools. "Most that I have seen are big companies promoting a product."

Curtain took her students to the Macy's float studio on its open day on Tuesday. She said she would assign them to study elements in the floats and then share what they learned with their parents.

Beijing's government supported the design of the float, said Li, who added that in next year's parade Beijing will again be the float's theme, but with a different angle.

SAFA, which was founded in 1992, has held a variety of corporate, cultural and educational exchange activities between American and Chinese experts scholars and business leaders.

In New York City, the organization's programs have included the annual "An Evening of Chinese Culture" with the New York Mets baseball team and the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, both since 2009. It also helped stage performances in Times Square for the New Year's Eve countdown from 2011 to 2013 and will do it this year.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this story.