World / US and Canada

Pandas join Macy's parade

By HONG XIAO in New York ( Updated: 2016-10-18 11:17

China's most beloved and recognized national treasure — the giant panda — will be featured in the 90th Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov 24.

The float called Chengdu, its Beauty and Splendor was unveiled exclusively to Chinese media at Macy's Parade Studio in Moonachie, New Jersey on Monday.

This will be the third consecutive year that a Chinese-themed float joins the classic parade in New York. Beijing and Yunnan were featured in the past two parades.

As the provincial capital of Sichuan Province in Southwest China, Chengdu is known as the home of the giant panda.

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, the world-renowned breeding and research base for giant pandas, is the only endangered species protection facility in the world that is located in a metropolitan area. It attracts almost 100,000 visitors a year.

"The float is a representative of China," said Susan Tercero, group vice-president of special productions at Macy's. "On the back of the float, there are a lot of pandas since the area is really known for its pandas."

"My favorite part of the float is the pandas. I love pandas," she added. "Everybody loves pandas. They are so cute and adorable and they definitely express the area of China, certainly when you look at that, you know where you are."

The float also spotlights other aspects of Chengdu like the Jinsha Culture (1250– 650 BC), the Dujiangyan Irrigation System (originally constructed around 256 BC by the State of Qin) and Mount Qingcheng, an important center of Taoism.

The Chengdu float is presented jointly by Macy's and the Sino-American Friendship Association, as well as the city government of Chengdu.

"I think the big part is identifying a particular region that we want to highlight, something maybe a city or an area that people aren't familiar with but that's really rich in Chinese culture, which is Chengdu," she said.

Tercero said that a float can take several months in terms of design and construction. The team started work in January, and since the design team was not that familiar with Chengdu, they put a lot of effort into research.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade has been held annually since 1924 (with the exception of three years during World War II).

"This is a great platform, we had 50 million viewers on TV last year, so it's a great moment for us to be able to bring different cultures and different experiences to the public, so they can actually see something new or something they're not familiar with," she said.

Tercero said the biggest challenge every year is having to break apart the larger floats into several pieces to get them through the Lincoln Tunnel and then put them back together in time for the parade.

In all there will be 27 floats in this year.

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