By Greg Hugh
Unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings lost in the NFC Divisional Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles thus disappointing die-hard Viking supporters dreaming of playing at home in Super Bowl XII. On the other hand, those who attended the Western Suburb Chinese Association Gala (WSCA) that disappointing evening got to enjoy quite an evening in the elegantly decorated Legacy Adult Daycare Center in Golden Valley, Minnesota.
The more than 300 guests were greeted by a Snoopy statue that will be sent to Changsha, China, as part of the St. Paul – Changsha China Friendship Garden at Phalen Park project. Proceeds from this WSCA Chinese New Year Gala will be donated to the project.
According to Linda Mealy-Lohmann, president of the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society (MCFGS), the gala was developed out of a preview initiative to showcase the five Peanuts statues that will be sent to Changsha, by different organizations within the Chinese community. Chen Zhou, lead organizer of the event, suggested that the WSCA would modify their Chinese New Year celebration plans and make it a fundraiser for the Friendship Garden at Phalen Park.
Zhou welcomed the gathering and went over the program for the evening, which included a song by a male duo, martial arts demonstrations by visiting Chinese athletes who also invited members of the audience to participate, a gymnast performing with ribbons, ball and hoops, a fan dance and another male singer that walked through the gathering while performing.
Surprisingly, the group was told that dinner would be served earlier than planned since the food was being catered from Lao Sze Chuan Restaurant in Minneapolis and had arrived. So, before dinner was served, Zhou introduced other members of the planning committee including Kan Fangyu, Liu Lei and Jing Li.
While the meal was being served, the group also enjoyed a song by an opera singer.
As the meal concluded, Mealey-Lohmann updated attendees on the progress of the fundraising for the 2018 construction, which included a video presentation of the garden. Mealey-Lohmann reported that the 2018 goal of $700,000.00 has been met and construction is expected to begin in spring. However, the group wasn’t ready to call it an evening yet, so Yudon Sheng, the artist who created the Snoopy statue, wanted to raise more money for the Garden and offered some of his paintings up for auction. One of the items was a drawing of a dog, in honor of the Year of the Dog, which was painted using a paper towel instead of a brush. He was also donating many of his paintings for the silent auction and had agreed to match the winning bid on a number of his paintings.
Again, attendees had much more to celebrate than those watching the Vikings-Eagles game, I’m sure.
To learn more about the garden project and to contribute to the Friendship Garden, visit www.MNChinaGarden.org