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Dragon day for the Poles

POLAND celebrated its national Pavilion Day yesterday with recitals of masterpieces by Frederic Chopin and a parade involving six large, floating Polish dragon balloons.

The parade, originally scheduled for noon, started at 4:30pm on the Bocheng Road parade route due to the wet weather.

The dragon balloons, each 15 meters long and 4 meters high, were all different. One resembled the symbolic Chinese dragon, but with only three claws.

Another looked more like a shark than a dragon and a third resembled a griffin.

"Unlike the Chinese dragon, which has a rather standard image, the Polish dragons have developed distinct images over the years, representing the culture of different Polish cities," project manager Olga Lany said.

The dragon balloons, each held by 10 keepers, flew like cumbersome kites high above the crowds.

Kids got especially excited as the balloons glided down close to them before rising again.

Lany said dragon legends are common in Poland, just like in China. Her home town Krakow is one of the many Polish cities said to have been built above where a dragon lived, she said.

A dragon parade is a popular tradition in her hometown, which has a statue of the Wawel Castle dragon.

Polish Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski visited the park for the Pavilion Day celebration.

He said it would be ideal if the pavilion could be sold to a Chinese organization.

With its facade resembling Polish paper cuts, he said it would be difficult to reassemble once it was dismantled for removal.

Another special Polish guest yesterday was eight-year-old Jaroslaw Michalski who won a trip to Shanghai in a painting competition.

Twelve-year-old Gu Zhixue from Shanghai won a reciprocal Poland trip and planned to visit in September.


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