In a magnificent display, lion and dragon dancers, martial arts performers, Beijing Opera floats and a 60-drum team rolled along a major Chinatown street in Chicago on Sunday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
It was an exceptionally beautiful fall day in Chicago with clear blue skies and bright sunshine. Tens of thousands of spectators of different cultures and races lined up along the busy streets of Wentworth and Cermak to watch one of the most spectacular parades in the city's history.
Many children dressed in traditional Chinese festive outfits happily waved the Chinese and American flags along the streets and people came from near and far to be part of the event.
"We can't wait to watch the big celebration," said Steven and Andrea Gaddy, a couple from St. Louis who always love Chinese food and green tea.
Maria D'Amezcus, who hails from Mexico but lives in the Chinatown area, told Xinhua she was "very excited" to see the parade.
"My grandchildren are learning Chinese and we all love Chinese culture," Maria said.
The extravaganza kicked off just after noon, led by a beautiful Chinese five-star red flag. A total of 74 marching units lined up on Wentworth street, including 22 floats, 2 dragon teams, 3 lion teams, 30 marching groups, 8 marching bands, as well as city officials and dignitaries.
Among the parade participants, the 60-Flag Team drew huge applause from spectators, waving their colorful flags to highlight China's great achievements in the past 60 years.
Overseas Chinese representatives from American-Chinese organizations, student associations and clubs, brimming with pride and joy, smiled and waved to the crowds.
The Shaolin Temple martial arts demonstration was one of the highlights at the parade. With a fierce tough-guy look on their faces, and swords in their hands, the young students gave a stunning performance of Chinese kung fu.
The Chinese opera float also charmed the crowds with its dramatic costumes and colorful decorations.
In addition, the Irish dancing troupes and high school marching bands also won bouts of cheering from the crowds.
"We are very excited to be here. We have a big Chinese student population and we are always thrilled to come here to celebrate," said Cheryl Silipek, art director of the Lincoln Park High School marching band.
The parade lasted more than one hour. During the closing ceremony, the VIP guests followed the Chinese tradition to throw out red cash envelopes along with colorful confetti to the hard-working dancing lions and the cheering crowds.
All the lion dancers pranced to try to catch the envelopes while the confetti danced in the air.
"This is going to be a historic parade in Chicago Chinatown. I have never seen such a big celebration here," said Gene Lee, deputy chief of staff at the Mayor's Office in Chicago.
Liu Hong, president of the Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago and the co-chair of the 60th Anniversary Organizing Committee, said: "We are very proud as overseas Chinese and very excited to celebrate our 60th anniversary here."
"Since 1949, China has shown the world remarkable achievements in every field, including economic growth, national strength, people's living standards, and foreign policy," Liu said.
Huang Ping, consul general of the Chinese Consulate General in Chicago, told Xinhua that the event would not be possible without China's rapid development over the last 60 years.
"And it would not be possible without the sound and solid development of the Sino-U.S. friendship, " Huang said.
"Let's continue to support China's development and future. Let's continue to enhance the Sino-U.S. friendship and give our applause to those who made the event possible," Huang added.