Guangzhou, Nov 12 (IANS) Tens of thousands of Guangzhou residents welcomed the Asian Games to their city and played their part in a spectacular interactive ‘Festival of Harmony’ with the athletes and officials from the Games’ 45 National Olympic Committees as they sailed along the Pearl River.
Starting from White Swan Bay, the athletes and officials boarded their boats to the strains of ‘Happy Song All the Way Along the River’ for a parade downriver from the wharves to the ‘ship’ ‘Harmony’ in the modern heart of Guangzhou, Xinhua reported.
Taking 77 minutes, the boats not only carried their charges to the ‘ship’ on the island but also gave them an opportunity to experience Guangzhou’s culture and unique riverside life at six stops along the way and gaze in wonder at the city’s dazzling night skyline glided past, the buildings, bridges and other landmarks lit up by a sea of neon and laser lights.
And it brought the opening ceremony home to people who otherwise would never have had a chance to join the festivities in person.
Opening ceremony director Chen Weiya said ‘leaving the stadium’ for part of an opening ceremony centered on the host city itself had never been tried at such a large event before and he called the boat parade a way for Games’ participants to ‘be together with the people’ and give as many Guangzhou people as possible ‘their own glimpse of the opening ceremony and turn it into a festival’.
For the athletes and officials, the parade showed them the natural and urban life of the Pearl River as well as performances on the riverbanks of traditional Guangzhou drumming, lion dancing, the Xiguan culture of Guangzhou, a local wedding, Yueju Opera, painting of a scroll depicting the ‘City of Five Goats’ and the Asian Games, dance, games and shadow boxing by local adults and seniors, a flower and fashion show and demonstrations of martial arts, percussion music and opera fused into cutting-edge modernity.
At the first stop, Zhoutouzui Dock, local residents and performers used dance and music to depict Guangzhou’s long history as the gateway to the Maritime Silk Road that brought Chinese commodities such as silk, ceramics, tea and handicrafts to the world at large and goods from the outside back to China.
At Xidi Dock, wedding enactments demonstrated the charming depths of the local Xiguan culture that has both witnessed cultures from outside and included many of those elements into Xiguan’s own culture while maintaining its own uniqueness.
At Tianzi Dock, Yueju Opera, the calling card of Guangzhou wherever there are Chinese overseas, offered the boats’ many passengers yet another entree into ‘Colourful Guangzhou’ and its culture.
With a riot of colorful flowers as a backdrop, dancers and models showed off modern Guangzhou fashion and dance to reveal an energetic, happy and harmonious outlook for the future.
Dances of lions, dragons and ‘qilin’ legendary animals, combined with martial arts performances, percussion and opera, all merged into a rollicking, unforgettable celebration of the Asian Games, the athletes and the people of Guangzhou.