Chengdu pandas join Macy’s parade
“China, welcome!” a woman shouted from the crowd attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Coming towards her was a float called Chengdu, named for the city in southern 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 participate in the 90th Macy’s parade.
About 3.5 million spectators were gathered along the route from West 75th street on Central Park West to the Macy’s mall on West 34th Street and Sixth Avenue.
“It feels really good to be a panda,” said Jenine Hines, a 12th grader from Evangel Christian School wearing a fuzzy panda hat.
She had gotten up at 4 o’clock in the morning 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.
This is the school’s second year participating in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Last year, their students were also 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 and province of Yunnan were featured in the last two years, respectively.
The Chengdu float, presented jointly by the Sino-American Friendship Association and the city government of Chengdu together with Macy’s, also highlighted other tourist attractions of the city, including the Dujiangyan Irrigation System (originally constructed around 256 BC by the State of Qin) and Mount Qingcheng, an important center of Taoism.
“Through the pandas we are introducing Chengdu to America,” 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 parade experience. 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 to see the parade. 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.”
Clockwise from top left: A Chinese-themed float joins the 90th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday in New York City. This year’s display focused on Chengdu, the city known as home of the giant panda. A Charlie Brown float makes its way down 6th Avenue during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Children wait to see their favorite balloon characters. More than 3.5 million spectators came to watch the parade.