Kunming's parade float: set in stone

Updated: 2015-11-11 06:56

(China Daily USA)

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Kunming's parade float: set in stone

John Piper (in plaid shirt), vice-president of Macy's Parade Studio, and Li Li (in black coat), executive vice-president of Sino-American Friendship Association, pose for a group photo on the Kunming Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Stone Forest float with dancers in Chinese folk costumes. HONG XIAO / CHINA DAILY

Kunming's natural attraction will be featured on a float in Macy's Thanksgiving Day spectacular

The Stone Forest, a spectacular attraction of Kunming in Yunnan province, will be featured in a float in the 89th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov 26.

The float, called The Stone Forest of Kunming, China: A Natural Wonder of the World unveiled to the media on Tuesday at Macy's Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey. It will be the second straight year that a Chinese-themed float joined the classic parade in New York.

Last year, The Beauty of Beijing, which featured tourism sites in the city, appeared in the parade.

The Kunming float will be presented jointly by Macy's and the Sino-American Friendship Association as well as the Stone Forest Scenic Spot of Kunming, China.

"We chose the Stone Forest as the theme for this year's float because we believe that it will showcase the diversity and the beauty of China to the Western audiences," said Li Li, executive vice-president of the Sino-American Friendship Association.

Listed by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage site, the Stone Forest or shilin is a 500 kilometer area near Kunming, overgrown with tree-shaped stones in the form of stalagmites formed 270 million years ago. The site is also known as "God's mini-scape" or "Sculpture Museum of Nature".

The site is an AAAAA-class tourist site, the highest-level rating in China.

"We also want to convey the message through the float that we welcome everyone to visit and explore Kunming, a city of a perfect blend of nature and civilization," Li said.

John Piper, vice-president of Macy's Parade Studio, said the float was assembled by a crew of about 20 local workers who started in July.

Repurposing the flat bed from last year's float, Piper said the most difficult job was recreating the forest's stone mountain range to scale on the float.

The sketch painters, having never been to Kunming before, did a lot of research and selected hundreds of photos of the forest for reference.

To approximate the pattern on the stone, designers had to draw layered sketches on a computer screen to achieve the best result.

Li said that there also would be traditional Chinese performances around the float by both Chinese and American performers.

"It's also a celebration for the friendship and mutual understanding between people of China and the US," Li said.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been held annually since 1924 (with the exception of three years during World War II) by the Macy's department store in New York. Last year, its live broadcast attracted 22.6 million viewers.