Chinese themes join holiday parade mix in New York

By HEZI JIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-26 07:38

Chinese themes join holiday parade mix in New York

Chinese cultural elements such as Monkey King, Sichuan Opera and pandas are represented in the Thanksgiving Day parades in Chicago (left) and New York on Thursday. LIAO PAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE/WANG PING/XINHUA

"China, welcome!" a woman shouted from the crowd watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Coming toward her was a float called Chengdu, named for the city in southwestern China that's known as the home of giant pandas.

Surrounding the float were dancing panda characters-42 students from two New York middle and high schools had trained for the past two months to march in the 90th Macy's parade.

About 3.5 million spectators were gathered along the route.

"It feels really good to be a panda," said Jenine Hines, a 12th-grader from Evangel Christian School wearing a fuzzy panda hat.

She got up at 4 am to join the other 19 students and their dance teacher at their campus in Long Island City and ride the bus to Central Park West.

The school is participating for a second year in the parade. Last year, the students were part of the dance group for the Chinese-themed float "Stone Forest".

This will be the third consecutive year that a Chinese-themed float has joined the iconic parade in New York. The city of Beijing was featured last year and Yunnan province the year before.

The Chengdu float, presented by the Sino-American Friendship Association and the city government of Chengdu, together with Macy's, also highlighted other tourist attractions of the city, such as the Dujiangyan irrigation system (originally built about 256 BC by the State of Qin) and Mount Qingcheng, an important center of Taoism.

"Through the pandas, we are introducing Chengdu to the United States," said Zhang Qiyue, China's consul general in New York. "We had a successful US-China tourism year in 2016. We are planning to bring even more tourism-related events next year."

The parade brought people from every corner of the world to the Big Apple.

It was Sofia Rego's third time at the parade. She came down from Hudson Valley, New York. Though she was too far away to see the floats and dancers, she was thrilled to see the big character balloons floating up above.

"I'm into the parade," she said. "I like the excitement, the whole holiday spirit!"

The Millers from Austin, Texas, planned their trip six months ago. Sitting in the front row wrapped in a hotel blanket, they said they arrived at 6:15 am. Four hours later, 8-year-old Joey Miller was still having fun. He said the Pikachu float was his favorite.

It was Pan Ming's first trip to New York. He came with nine other friends to perform Sichuan Opera on the Chengdu float.

"I like it here," he said. "The people of New York are so warm and friendly. I'm here to invite them to my beautiful city."

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