The holiday started ridiculously enough with a fifteen person sleepover at Ellen's luxury apartment in the Ascott, which has a pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and gym. This was September 30th, the day before the China's National Day Parade. We were expecting to be locked into the Ascott complex until the evening of the 1st, after the parade festivities subsided. We trucked in cases of beer, dozens of eggs, pounds of pasta, slabs of meat, bags of fruit and vegetables, and bottles of liquor, all so we could survive two days. That's how we celebrate the PRC, baby.
On the 1st, fighter planes and helicopters passed directly over us. We would hear/feel them approaching, run to the window to see them, and 10 seconds later they'd be on TV, televised for all the nation to see. The televised display was incredible: thousands of soldiers marching in lock-step, 100-ish floats representing China's accomplishments and advancements, an ever-changing display that changed from the Chinese flag to Chinese characters to a portrait of Mao in an instant. The Catch: this display was the width of Tian'anmen square (the largest city square in the world) and was not powered by electricity or a computer, it was powered by people. Tens of thousands of volunteers with colored flags, holding one up on cue to create a massive portrait. The timing of it was perfect, every time.
I believe the parade received very little coverage in the USA. That's a little disappointing, as i believe the rest of the world could learn something about the love felt by the Chinese citizens for their country. It's absolutely astonishing the sheer magnitude of support for this parade. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers spent three months preparing for their small parts in the parade. They gave up weekends, nights, and vacation time just simply to participate.
For spectacular pictures of the actual parade, please see this link, courtesy of the Boston Globe. It gives an idea of the preparations required for such a magnificent display.
And here's a little of what we saw. We were not allowed to see the actual parade (except on TV), but the tanks all rolled out of town directly past where we were staying. Note, the parade was largely military, but the purpose was to demonstrate that while China is still a developing country, they are both peaceful and dangerous. The message was clear: We're minding our own business, don't mess with us and we'll play nice.
Every little boy's dream: TANKS and ROCKET LAUNCHERS!!!