Number 40     January - February 2005


By Alan Lamson

As the bus inched its way toward a rose garden in Xicheng District, Beijing I heard someone say, ?My god, look at all those people!? My heart quickened as I saw what appeared to be hundreds of people milling about this rather small neighborhood garden?waiting for us, the delegation from their sister city, Pasadena, who had brought five special roses from The Huntington to help dedicate a new sculpture in their garden.

Adding to the festive spirit, bagpiper and filmmaker John McDonald, dressed in full Scottish regalia, piped a traditional tune as the fourteen of us marched off our bus; the mayor of Pasadena, Bill Bogaard, arrived at the same time via his black Audi. Everywhere throngs of people waved and held up small children. Dancers in colorful outfits formed part of a mock wedding group, complete with the bride in her sedan chair. Musicians in costume played traditional instruments, and everywhere there were throngs of people straining to catch a glimpse of the foreigners, some daring enough to have their pictures taken with the man in the kilt holding the strange looking instrument.

Though the sequence of events is a bit hazy now, the key event was the unveiling of a tall object covered by a billowing red cloth. Mayor Bogaard pulled on a rope, along with former governor Lu Xiwen, to reveal a 20-foot tall metal sculpture of a rose. After we all had our photos in front of the rose sculpture, we were drawn through the crowds toward the area where our roses would be planted.

The roses were propagated at The Huntington by Clair Martin who thought the Polythanthas would be a hardy variety to survive the severe winters of Beijing. (Ironically, the variety originated in China). Clair and his Volunteers propagated the ?Pasadena Tournament?. All survived the trip to Beijing and looked in good health as several of us?with our white gloves on?planted and watered our special roses. They will spend the winter in a hothouse before being replanted again outside in the spring.

As we headed back to our hotel, our group excitedly talked about what we had just witnessed, all of us agreeing that this was the highlight of our weeklong trip to Beijing to celebrate the 5th anniversary of our sister city relationship with Xicheng District. Many of us look forward to visiting our roses in the New Year.

Alan Lamson, Pasadena Sister City Committee


For more wonderful pictures of this historic event, click here


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