by Xinhua Writers Julia Pierrepont III, Tan Jingjing
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Beneath a twinkling spray of fairy lights and a scattering of multi-colored lanterns, hundreds of Southern Californians from the world of arts and letters gathered at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, to celebrate a new inter-cultural experience.
Representatives from the Chinese Consulate General in Los Angeles, the Bowers Museum, the Pacific symphony, the Richard Nixon Library, University of California Irvine, Disney, the Long Foundation, LA Board of Supervisors and others sipped cocktails and nibbled delectable hors d'oeurves as they came together to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
"The Mid-Autumn Festival carries many auspicious and symbolic meanings in Chinese culture. Because it falls after the Autumn harvest, it's given a meaning of abundance and prosperity," explained Chinese Consul General Zhang Ping. "While the full bright moon gives people blessings for love, reunion and a happy life."
Zhang spoke eloquently about the need to embrace the festival's spirit of unity. "Despite the fact that people of different countries have different cultural backgrounds and social systems and ideologies, as human beings living on planet Earth, we all belong to a global family that shares the same destiny of mankind."
"We all aspire to a better life for our families and a better future for our children. We all want to see different cultures, religions, ethnicities, and civilizations stay in harmony and for all nations to enjoy a lasting peace," he said.
"This year is especially important with the People's Republic of China celebrating the 70th anniversary of its founding. By all of us working together we easily build bonds and long-lasting friendships that are so important to the world today," South Coast Plaza's General Manager David Grant told the gathering.
Mindy Avol from Visit Anaheim Inc. was quick to point out that California does not share the same exclusionary point of view as Washington D.C. "California's 'All Dreams Welcome' campaign shows our Chinese friends and all our other visitors that they are very welcome in California. We want to cut through all the chatter out there that isn't positive," she told Xinhua.
The spirit of friendship and cooperation was running high amongst the attendees, as Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Koreans, and many other cultures enjoyed the evening's entertainment.
"This moon festival is part of my cultural tradition, so I'm proud to see it being shared by people from many other backgrounds," a Chinese-American surnamed Kean told Xinhua.
Elegant Asian models garbed in gorgeous traditional gowns and headdresses from different countries moved through the crowd and posed for selfies, while performers from the Hansori Drum Dance, Sichuan Opera Face-Changing, YaYa Dance Academy, Filipino singer Felson, Quartet, and Koran Fan Dance regaled the diverse crowd with traditional songs, dances and drum routines.
Magdelena Gomez, director of Public Relations for the California Southern University, said the Mid-Autumn Festival is an opportunity to engage with the community and embrace different cultures. "It's a pleasure to be in this lovely setting, share with others and be immersed in another culture, their food and traditions."
"I've celebrated this holiday with my own community before, but never with different ethnic groups. It's fantastic! Asians are shy people, so when you celebrate with more mainstream Americans, it brings us all closer together," Lisa Hoang, a former mortgage banker, who was born in Vietnam then immigrated to the United States years ago, told Xinhua.
"This festival marks the importance of family and friends, the furtherance of cooperation, mutual respect, understanding and friendship between the many countries of the world today," Grant concurred.
"I love the exposure to new cultures. It's fascinating. I didn't grow up in a time when we had much diversity or many ethnic populations, so I love it," explained local SoCal resident, Kelly P.
Mandi Morgan from Dale Carnegie agreed, "It's wonderful event. I embrace the diversity and the culture and love the beautifully-dressed women in traditional gowns, the food, the ambiance."
"It's also a great place to network and to serve and support each other," she said with a smile.
At the end of the event, Consul General Zhang also extended an additional invitation to another special cross-cultural event, a Chinese photo exhibition entitled "Beautiful China: Man, Nature and Harmony" which showcases the natural and architectural landscapes and a compelling insider's view to life in China.