by An Ran
PHOENIX, United States, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- "This is really fabulous, and we never imagine that we will have this kind of event in Phoenix area when we planned this trip," said Pam, a 70-year-old lady who only gave her first name, facing a huge phoenix lantern 12 meters high and 20 meters wide.
Not only Pam, who just drove 2,500 km from Saint Louis of Missouri to Phoenix with 10 of her family members to celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays, but also thousands of Arizonans found an amazing way to celebrate over this Thanksgiving weekend.
A grand lantern display, Chinese martial arts, acrobatics and Chinese traditional snack vendors were all parts of the Lights of the World festival in the capital of Arizona, which became a must-go event for local people and tourists.
This 10-week event combined the Chinese tradition of the lantern festival with modern cutting-edge technology and lighting. With 11 overarching exhibits and 75 stunning displays, the Lights of the World was the largest lights show in North America to date.
The phoenix lantern at the entrance was a special gift dedicated to the City of Phoenix from the U.S.-China Cultural & Educational Foundation (USCEF), the organizer of this event.
Besides the giant lantern, the festival also included a lot of reproductions of some of the most famous attractions and cultural highlights of China such as the Great Wall, Peking Opera facial masks, and Blue and White porcelain.
"We planned and prepared this event for three years; we hired more than 200 workers and designers to design and make these lanterns. And they spent more than three months to complete this mission," Yang Song, vice president of USCEF, told Xinhua on Friday night. "I hope our hard work can bring the people of Phoenix an authentic and fantastic Chinese cultural experience."
As a former vocal music professor in China, Song had a deeper understanding about the meaning of this event.
"Lantern has a unique role in Chinese culture. Hopefully, this event will bring a new impression about China to the American people, so they can realize that besides the clothes and toys they can find in all the supermarkets, culture is also a very good product made in China," he said.
Song also prepared more Chinese acrobatic shows and different kinds of Chinese tradition arts for visitors, such as sugar painting, embroidery, finger palm painting, paper cutting, calligraphy and bamboo weaving. Some chefs from the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, Phoenix's sister city, cooked famous Sichuan cuisine and snacks on site for visitors as well.
"I bought a dragon sugar painting for my son, and it is really amazing to watch the artist paint it with a spoon of sugar," said Tim Cochrane, a native of Phoenix, who visited the Lights of the World with his wife and 10-year-old son.
Although Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the United States, people here rarely had an opportunity like this to appreciate Chinese culture and art.
"I will post a poster of this event in my classroom, and encourage my students to visit this event. This is really a good opportunity for them to learn the Chinese culture," said Lisa Ye, a Chinese teacher in a local elementary school.