Coconut/Watermelon Slices

It has always been a challenge to develop a floor plan on how to maximize the circular shape 13passage5 63 20140103 1625617055of the Rotunda at Mall of America for the presentation of our A Passage to China festival. This year our organizing Passage Committee took inspiration from the semi-circular shapes of coconut slices (or watermelon slices) usually served at Chinese New Year and arranged our tables in groups of semi-circles around the Rotunda, giving us a nice central plaza, with its overhanging bamboo ceiling, for everyone to congregate and greet and chat. Everyone simply loved this arrangement and many commented on feeling the centralized forces, the ‘chi’, coming together in the center. This was really what Passage was about, a coming together of all like-minded organizations to promote mutual understanding of all things Chinese among all peoples.


On the morning of April 13, lines of eager attendees were already lining up outside our 13passage5 112 20140103 1049450108Passage gates waiting for the fun to begin. And what fun they had! The drums and dancers from the David Fong Family Lion Dance Team heralded the opening. The new table arrangement allowed for so much better sightlines and traffic flow that nearly all roadblocks around popular activities from previous festivals were eliminated. Now attendees could survey the situation, choose the best available activity table and amble over to enjoy themselves. New activities, such as the terra cotta warrior head-on-a-stick, or the paper cut greeting cards, found their eager audiences swiftly. This was also true for the increasingly popular porcelain medallion necklaces. Elders strolling by nodded approvingly as they smiled indulgently at the enthusiasm of the young. Occasionally these elders could be coaxed to sit down for a game of go. Then all serious concentration ensued, a game lasting two hours or more were not unheard of. Such juxtaposing scenes were what Passage had come to symbolize: boisterous fun for the young and intellectual exercises for the old, and something in between for the sandwiched generation.


13passage5 141 20140103 1839857576The highlight on Sunday, April 14, was the judging of the terra cotta warrior coloring contest. A committee, headed by Liu Yang, Asian Arts curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, examined the work of a coterie of students and handed out a series of cash prizes in several age categories. This new activity attracted a group of attendees who had not come to Passage before. They were pleasantly surprised at the scope of our festival and promised to return.

Over in Sears Court there was an explosion of audience attendance, so much so that Mall of America had to call out its security guards! Mall rules dictate that there be clear passages in all directions should an emergency arise. So Mall guards were much in evidence as they tried to clear paths among our engrossed audiences. All in good fun, of course. This was a good problem to have: too much interest and demand!

CHFF cannot say thank you enough to all our participants for making 2013 Passage so 13passage5 127 20140103 1583341818memorable. To present a festival of this size requires the good will (and good humor) of both participating organizations and attendees. True to our logo, everyone coming through our Gates of Mutual Understanding and Courtesy will have partaken of our hospitality and our push for mutual understanding among all Minnesotans.

Last, but not least, our hats off to our volunteers, more than 100 strong this year! Without them, Passage could not have even gotten off the ground. Much less to the acclaimed finish that we achieved with an estimated 15,000 attendance. Thank you one and all!

Our Committee is already hard at work on next year’s presentation, together with its secret addition. Stay tuned and check our Upcoming Events page for updates.

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Rotunda Participating Organizations
American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Annie Rollins Shadow Puppetry
Asian Creations
Association of Minnesota Chinese Physicians ChinaSprout Inc.
Chinese American Academic and Professional Association in MN
Chinese American Business Association of Minnesota
Chinese Social Service Center
CIAC Travel Inc.
Concordia Language School
David Fong’s Lion Dance Team Dragon Festival
Families with Children from Asia
Gary Erickson
Hongde Lion Dance Association
Macalester College Chinese Culture Club
Minhua Chorus
Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society
Minnesota International Chinese School
Minnesota Minghua Central School
Minnetonka Public Schools
Panda Express
Shaanxi Association of Minnesota
Tea Garden
Twin Cities Go Club
U MN China Center
U MN Confucius Institute
U MN East Asian Library
US China Business Connections
US China Peoples Friendship Association MN Chapter



Sears Court Participating Organizations and Artists
Alex Ewald
CAAM Chinese Dance Theater
MN Chinese Ballroom Dance Association
Chinese Musical Gallery
Dragon Gate School of Tai Chi Chuan
Golden Leopard Martial Arts Center
Green Dragon Kung Fu
Ha Family Entertainment and Family Troupe
Hongde Lion Dance Association
Hopkins Xin Xing Academy
Hui’s Lucky Dragon Dance
Lam Hung Pak Mei Athletic Association
Legacy Adult Day Care Chorus and Dance Group
Li Lei Music Studio
Little Swan Dance Studio
Mandarin Links LLC
Mingzhou Hua Xia School
Minhua Chorus Minneapolis
Plum Blossom Martial Arts Center
Minnesota Chinese Dance Theater
Minnesota Chinese Opera
Minnesota Minhua Chinese School
Muzi Youth Chorus
Normandale Community College Tai Chi for Health Programs
Rainbow Arts
Spring Forest Qigong
Ting James Kong Studio
Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center
United Tai Chi Center
U MN Chinese Students and Scholars Association
Xu Qian Studio
Yinghua Academy
Yu Cai Chinese Language School

Masters of ceremonies – Anthony James, Yan Huss, Shannon Yee

Stage managers –Zhen Zou, J. C. Wang


Demonstration Artists
Will Ahern, webcasting
Josephine Auyeung
Chiafang Chang
Gary Erickson, ceramics
Ivy Flanders, painting
Yin Jiang
Ying Liang, paper cutting
Stephen Mao, calligraphy
Annie Rollins, puppetry
Kongkai Shan
Stephen Tsui, calligraphy
Priscilla Van Sloun
Maureen Wu
Alice Yang
Jing Yuan
Mary Zhang
Ying Xue Zhang


Cooking Demonstrations
Linda Hugh
Linda Tam
Yin Simpson
Margaret Wong
Nina Wong
May Yue


Passage Committee
Ken Lau, chair
Mary Warpeha, vice-chair
Yin Simpson & Michelle Lee, decorations
Margaret Wong, demonstrations
Ming Li Tchou, hospitality
Gary Lee, logistics
Greg Hugh & Ben Torell, marketing & public relations
Zhen Zou & J. C. Wang, performances
Pearl Bergad, Gary Erickson, Ying Liang & Angela Brain, programs
Ida Lano & Hong Lin, volunteers