60 years ago today Mao Zedong stood in Tiananmen Square, raised the national flag for the first time and declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China. They say there were 300,000 soldiers and spectators there that day.
Well, that’s nothing compared to how many people are expected to be in Beijing today for the 60th anniversary gala.
Planning for today has been in the works for years. A new subway line opened up just for today, as well as the rebuilding and reinforcing of entire streets to handle the weight of the massive parade they are going to have this morning. 800,000 people have been hired just to deal with the event security for the rest of the week. If you saw the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony you know when China does something, it does it as big as possible.
Of course they are ensuring that it will a perfect day and the event will go off without a hitch. Many of the marchers in the parade have been practicing 8 hours a day to ensure they look good. (The soldiers have also been trained to blink only once every 40 seconds.) Pigeons are banned from flying (and have been captured for the time being) and even clouds won’t be allowed. (18 weather altering planes have been brought in as well as 10 fog-clearing trucks to ensure blue skies.)
Color me red, but I’m actually pretty excited for the parade myself. I’ve been seeing pictures and clips of rehearsal for weeks. After the parade we will probably bike to downtown Lin’an to see if there is any special event going on. For the past few days, many people have been setting off fireworks, but today, on the actual morning, the streets are quiet (most of the students have left so the campus feels like a ghost town).
Being in a foreign country during their national holiday is a unique way to get some insight into the foreign culture. I’m excited to see it!