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January 3, 2010

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Expo float a big hit in US parade

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

Excited crowds hailed "Jackie, Jackie" when the Expo float carrying action film star Jackie Chan veered into view on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, the main street of the 10-kilometer parade route, at about 9:40am on Friday.

Chan, also an Expo Shanghai image ambassador, joined US Commissioner General Jose Villarreal and Chinese baseball team coach during the Olympics, Jim Lefebvre, to wave to crowds during the two-hour float trip.

Yao Ming, Shanghai's NBA star and another Expo ambassador, cancelled his plan at the last minute to board the float to protect his left foot recovering from an operation in July. Yao watched the parade along the road with spectators.

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

Consisting of 80 Shanghai pupils, the roller-skaters dressed in blue Expo Shanghai mascot "Haibao" costumes with colorful gauzy wings and danced and performed in front of the 16.8-meter-long, 11-meter-high float.

An inflated "Haibao" character joined the fun by marching and amusing spectators as the Shanghai float passed.

The Chinese-American Roundtable & Committee of 100, the Shanghai float sponsor, raised US$350,000 for the Expo-themed vehicle to join another 40 floats, 22 marching bands and 23 equestrian units for this year's Rose Parade.

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

The parade is scheduled to be shown on Shanghai Dragon TV at 9:15 tonight.


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