The Moon Gate
To the Chinese, the circle signifies completeness. In the old days, every married couple treasured a round bronze mirror: their happiness complete. The roundness of the full moon is of course an image to be celebrated and emulated. Thus the moon gate in the Chinese garden was born. To step over the threshold of the moon gate is to enter into a special space, one to be savored in leisure and enjoyment.
In 2016, the kiosk linking the Rotunda to the Nickelodeon Universe became available to Passage for the first time in several years. It offered us an additional entrance into the Rotunda and we seized the opportunity to create our very own moon gate, one that would entice Nickelodeon patrons to step into our unique space, to begin their own passages to China.
To create a moon gate there presented us with many challenges. The lack of guide wires over the kiosk pre-empted the option to hang the gate, similar to our Gates of Mutual Understanding and Courtesy at our two other entrances. Stand-alone structures, in order to meet safety concerns, required a massiveness that we wished to avoid. After numerous trips to the MOA and countless designs, we hit upon a design to build the gate with translucent fabric and to suspend it from stand-alone 8-foot pipes. The resulting golden moon gate is light and airy, inviting and, most importantly, sturdy enough to meet the Mall’s safety concerns. For the first time, a steady stream of visitors came in through the gate from the Nickelodeon Universe, testifying to its success!
After nine years, Passage has settled into a steady rhythm. Many returning attendees, with new family members and friends in tow, knew what to do or expect. They also delighted in discovering new activities, such as a chance to try the classic Chinese instrument, qing, or gathering enough daring to try the cerebral game of Go. Trying on Chinese costumes continued to draw, particularly when paired with a chance to have a photo taken next to our terra cotta warrior. New cooking demonstrations, heavy on garlic and spices, added a new dimension to the sights and sounds of the Rotunda.
Over at Sears Court, cultural performances, announced by the ever-popular lion dance, proceeded without a break for four hours or more each day. The highlight was the Kanle Senior Citizens Band. Their hairnets and ‘instruments’ of pots and pans brought much applause from, and knowing smiles in, the appreciative audience. This year also marked the arrival of real-time technology at Passage. Under the watchful eye of wizard Will Ahern, performances at Sears Court were brought live to the jumbotron in the Rotunda.
Another first at Sears Court was the inauguration of a new CHF program: the Young Volunteer Award. Junior High and High School students who volunteer 20 or more hours at Chinese cultural events in a calendar year will be recognized and awarded a certificate from our founder and president, Ming Tchou. This year we recognized our first recipient, Summer Ahern. Summer has volunteered at Passage and other CHF events since 2009, accumulating many more than 20 hours. She is the inspiration for this service award. Many congratulations, Summer!
Too soon, our two-day festival came to a close. So many Mall goers now have come to expect to see us every spring. We bid them a fond ‘See you next year!” in a joyful sigh of satisfaction.
Yen Chin Woo
Passage Volunteer Appreciation Picnic
On a sunny July 17 morning, many volunteers gathered at the home of Passage Chair Ken Lau and enjoyed a tasty picnic consisting of BBQ chicken, grilled vegetables, various salads and fruits, and many cookies and cake for dessert. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to relax and get to know each other outside of the hustle and bustle of Passage. John, Ken's son, had thoughtfully erected two tents to shield us from the hot July sun. While children played on the spacious lawn, adults stretched back on the comfortable chairs and soaked in the warm rays of the MN sun. Everyone had a wonderful time!