Chi­nese float gives joy at Macy’s pa­rade

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By NIU YUE in New York

Emmy Ye, a fresh­man at Bos­ton Col­lege, was sur­prised to see a Chi­nese float dur­ing her first Thanks­giv­ing Day pa­rade in New York on Thurs­day. “I think it is very cool,” said the Chi­nese in­ter­na­tional stu­dent, who ar­rived at the pa­rade route at 4:30 am to se­cure a good van­tage point. “I didn’t think there would be a Chi­nese float.”

The float, called Beauty of Beijing, is the first Chi­nese float in the sto­ried Macy’s pa­rade, which took place for the 88th time in New York.

The Chi­nese float fea­tures tourism des­ti­na­tions in Beijing in­clud­ing the Great Wall and the Tem­ple of Heaven. Macy’s es­ti­mated that 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple would watch the pa­rade in per­son and 50 mil­lion more would see it on tele­vi­sion.

A march­ing band of around 130 from Staten Is­land, New York, per­formed in tra­di­tional Chi­nese clothes. A lion-danc­ing group was also with the float, in­ter­act­ing with spec­ta­tors.

“The lion danc­ing is re­ally cool,” said Pa­trick Flana­gan, a Columbia Univer­sity stu­dent, as peo­ple around him took pho­tos with their cell­phones, and chil­dren were reach­ing out their hands to the lion.

The Sino-Amer­i­can Friend­ship As­so­ci­a­tion (SAFA), a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that fo­cuses on strength­en­ing friend­ship and un­der­stand­ing be­tween the US and China, spon­sored the float.

“There were a lot of dis­cus­sions,” said Li Li, ex­ec­u­tive vi­cepres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion.

The float’s de­sign be­gan about a year and a half ago, ac­cord­ing to Jessica Moretti, one of the Beauty of Beijing’s de­sign­ers from Macy’s.

The event could “pro­mote Sino-US friend­ship and bring the two peo­ples much closer”, said Zhang Meifang, deputy con­sul gen­eral of the Chi­nese Con­sulate Gen­eral in New York

“It is a very good method to help Chi­nese cul­ture and tra­di­tion known to the United States and the world,” she told China Daily.

Zhang said she ex­pects more ex­changes and tourism be­tween China and the US, as both coun­tries agreed to ex­tend tourist and stu­dents’ visa va­lid­ity to 10 and five years, re­spec­tively, dur­ing the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion meet­ing in Beijing ear­lier this month.

“It’s the first time that we have used such an in­ter­na­tional fes­ti­val to pro­mote Beijing’s tourism,” said Zhang Jing, di­rec­tor of city im­age and mar­ket­ing at the Beijing Mu­nic­i­pal Com­mis­sion of Tourism De­vel­op­ment. “It’s an in­no­va­tion.”

He told China Daily that Beijing has been ren­o­vat­ing its tourism re­sources and de­vel­op­ing new routes. For ex­am­ple, the ban­quet hall at the Na­tional Aquat­ics Cen­ter, known as the Wa­ter Cube, where world lead­ers had din­ner dur­ing the APEC meet­ing, will be pre­served un­til Chi­nese Lu­nar New Year next year. The hall will be open to tourists.

The US is China’s fourth­largest source of for­eign tourism and the largest to Beijing. More than 2 mil­lion Amer­i­can tourists vis­ited China last year — 740,000 of those to Beijing, ac­cord­ing to Beijing and na­tional tourism fig­ures.

The float “de­liv­ers the mes­sage that Beijing is for­ever an ideal des­ti­na­tion for tourism, and helps with the tourism in­dus­try of over­all China”, said Xue Yap­ing, di­rec­tor of the China Na­tional Tourist Of­fice in New York.

The Macy’s pa­rade fea­tured 27 floats, 1,300 cheer­lead­ers and dancers, 1,000 clowns, 12 march­ing bands, and many celebrity per­form­ers, such as mu­si­cians Sting and KISS. The pa­rade , which went from 9 am to noon, started on the Up­per West Side, at 77th Street and Cen­tral Park West, turned east at 59th Street, and con­cluded at Macy’s head­quar­ters in Her­ald Square at 34th Street in Man­hat­tan.

Beijing is also con­duct­ing another pro­mo­tional cam­paign in the New York area. A video fea­tur­ing Beijing’s 72-hour visa-free pol­icy is be­ing shown on some 3,000 screens at 340 com­muter trains and 13 sta­tions along the PATH route be­tween New Jersey and New York City.

Since Jan­uary 2013, tourists from the US and 44 other coun­tries who are trav­el­ing to a third coun­try can stay in Beijing with­out a visa for 72 hours. The pol­icy is one way China is look­ing to im­prove its tourism num­bers as it faces chal­lenges from other Asian na­tions and other fac­tors, such as air pol­lu­tion, ac­cord­ing to Xue. For­eign trav­el­ers to Beijing have fallen by 6.4 per­cent so far this year. Lu Hui­quan in New York con­trib­uted to the story.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.