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March 26, 2010

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Little Mermaid all packed up for her big Expo date with Shanghai

WITH careful wrapping and a bodyguard on hand for the entire journey, the famous Little Mermaid statue was boxed up in Denmark yesterday for its voyage to China for the Shanghai World Expo.

It is the statue's first journey from Copenhagen Harbor since its creation in 1913.

The children's story, The Little Mermaid, still popular all around the world, was written by one of Denmark's favorite sons, Hans Christian Anderson (1805-1875).

A farewell was held about 2:45pm local time (8:45pm Beijing time) at the statue's Langelinie Park home.

Two dancers, dressed as a Chinese-style dragon and a mermaid, performed, symbolizing the close ties between China and Denmark.

Chinese and Danish children sang songs in their native languages at the send-off.

Farewell speeches were given by Danish Economic and Business Affairs Minister Brian Mikkelsen, Copenhagen Lord Mayor Frank Jensen and officials from the Chinese Embassy in Denmark.

"It is, of course, emotional for most of the people of Copenhagen to say goodbye to their beloved Mermaid, but many Danes think it's a positive thing that she will be the representative for Denmark at the World Expo," Christopher Bramsen, Commissioner-General of Denmark for the Expo, told Shanghai Daily.

Bramsen presided over the park farewell ceremony.

"The mermaid is practicing what her 'father,' Hans Christian Andersen, said ... 'to travel is to see'," said Claus Tuersted, the senior architect of the Denmark Pavilion at the World Expo, who was born in Copenhagen.

The statue is expected to be on show for visitors in Shanghai from April 25, a week before the Expo starts, when an unveiling ceremony will be held at the Denmark Pavilion.

It will return to the Danish capital toward the end of November.

The statue - 1.25 meters high and weighing about 175 kilograms - will undergo several more days of packing procedures before leaving Copenhagen Airport and arriving at Pudong International Airport late next week.

Bramsen said the departure and arrival times were confidential for security concerns.

A veteran Danish stonecutter, who is in charge of the protection and repair of all monuments in Copenhagen, including the Mermaid, will accompany her during the 12-hour flight.

In Shanghai, about 50 Chinese and 20 Danish workers have finished most of the preparation work in the Denmark Pavilion for the statue.

A 20m-wide arch-shaped cement pool has been completed in the middle of the pavilion where the statue will sit in water.

Visitors will be allowed to walk barefoot through the shallow water to get as close as 5m to the iconic statue.


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