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August 22, 2010

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The Little Mermaid's birthday bash kicks off

FOUR boys in the uniform of the Danish royal bodyguard played flutes and drums yesterday near the pool of the Denmark Pavilion where the Little Mermaid sits, launching a three-day celebration of the icon's 97th anniversary.

Tomorrow's birthday is the first to be celebrated outside Copenhagen since the statue was placed on the edge of the city's harbor on August 23, 1913.

"We will give the Little Mermaid a big party, because she deserves a break after she has been working hard at the Expo," said Christopher Bramsen, commissioner general of Denmark.

Tomorrow's celebrations will begin with a splash at 10am. Three synchronized swimmers will perform the Little Mermaid story written by Hans Christian Andersen in the pool.

A four-year-old Shanghai girl whose birthday is also tomorrow will present flowers to the statue. The girl's father sent an e-mail to the pavilion asking if his daughter could give flowers to the Little Mermaid.

Girls of all ages will be invited to jump into the water to celebrate the birthday, a tradition in Denmark.

In Copenhagen, local residents will pose on the stone where the Little Mermaid sat before her journey to Shanghai to celebrate the big day. A big screen has been installed at the harbor showing the statue at the Expo pavilion.

At 5pm tomorrow, the pavilion will ask staff and visitors to wave to the camera in front of the mermaid for the people in Copenhagen to see. The time difference between Shanghai and Copenhagen is about 6 hours.

"This is also a great opportunity to give our visitors the chance to have fun experiencing some of the best of Danish culture," Bramsen said.

During the three-day celebration, visitors can join a paper-cutting workshop taught by Chinese and Danish artists -- paper-cutting was one of Hans Christian Andersen's favorite activities.

The celebration also features reading of Hans Christian Andersen fairytales by Danish staff in both Chinese and Danish.

Some areas have been set up in front of the pavilion for children to draw and play with toys. Pavilion staff will also teach basic Danish phrases and facts about Denmark.

"The celebration is aimed at children and those still young at heart," Bramsen said.

Tomorrow, visitors will be allowed to sit on a large stone which was brought from Copenhagen harbor, to pose like the Little Mermaid for pictures.


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