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Expo Shanghai float impresses Rose Parade watchers

HUNDREDS of thousands of spectators burst into cheers when the Shanghai Expo float debuted on the 121-year-old Pasadena Rose Parade, one of most traditional New Year celebrations in the United States.

Excited audiences hailing "Jackie, Jackie" when the Expo float with action film star Jackie Chan on it veered into Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, the main street of the 10-kilometer parade route, at about 9:40am.

Chan, also a Shanghai Expo image ambassador, joined the US Commissioner General Jose Villarreal and Jim Lefebvre, Chinese baseball team coach during the Olympics, to wave to watching crowd along the street throughout the 2-hour float trip.

Yao Ming, Shanghai's NBA star and another Expo ambassador, at the last minute cancelled his plan to get onto the vehicle to protect his left foot recovering from an operation in July. Previous Chinese reports said he was not allowed to stand for more than 10 minutes. Yao watched the parade along the road with the excited audiences.

"It's a pity that Yao Ming couldn't make his appearance, but those roller-skating kids really stunt us," said Grace Esplin, a California-native parade watcher. "Look at their beautiful costumes… those kids are so talented."

Consisting 80 Shanghai pupils, the roller-skaters dressed in blue Shanghai Expo mascot "Haibao" costumes with colorful gauzy wings taxied in front of the 16.80-meter-long and 11-meter-high float, dancing and performing.

Air-inflated "haibao" with real person acting inside also join the parade by marching and amusing the audience around the Shanghai float.

The Roundtable Southern California Chinese-American Organization, the Shanghai float sponsor, managed to raise US$350,000 for the Expo-themed vehicle to join another 40 floats, 22 marching bands and 23 equestrian units in this year's Rose Parade.

Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, the captain who became a US national hero after landing a malfunctioned jetliner on New York's Hudson River, was selected as Grand Marshal this year to lead the New Year celebration parade.

Street sidewalks along the route in Pasadena were also staked by thousands of people who arrived at the southern California city about one day before and stayed overnight outside for a better viewing point.

The parade is scheduled to be shown on Shanghai Dragon TV at 9:15pm tomorrow. (Jan. 3)


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