Date: Saturday, 10 a.m., July 13
Location: Xiang Jiang Pavilion, Phalen Regional Park, Saint Paul
The MCFGS will hold a grand opening ceremony of the St. Paul–Changsha China Friendship Garden at the Phalen-Keller Regional Park located in Saint Paul on July 13. It will take place on the first day of the Dragon Festival at 10 a.m. at the Xiang Jiang Pavilion. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter will attend along with other state and city officials and esteemed guests from St. Paul’s sister city, Changsha, Hunan Province, a relationship that began more than 30 years ago.
The July 13 celebration will begin with a dragon and lion dance procession from the dragon boat area to the Xiang Jiang Pavilion for the ribbon cutting ceremony. This will be followed by several short speeches, Hmong and Chinese cultural performances, and the reading of the winning poem in the Qu Yuan poetry contest. There also will be a number of cultural family friendly activities at the Pavilion until 1 p.m. including a Hmong Pandau demonstration, zongzi making, Chinese painting, big brush calligraphy, photo opportunities, and more.
The garden, officially named the St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden of Whispering Willows and Flowing Waters or Liu Ming Yuan, sits on a 1.2-acre site at Phalen Park and is a sister-city collaboration between the cities of St. Paul and Changsha, Hunan Province and the Changsha Yanghu Wetland Park, facilitated by the MCFGS.
After years of planning and fundraising efforts, the garden finally took root in 2018 as the sister-cities followed through with the gift exchange that included a replica of Changsha’s Aiwan Pavilion and St. Paul sending five Peanuts character statues to Changsha’s Yanghu Wetland Park. The Xiang Jiang Pavilion was erected last fall, accompanied by a Hmong Heritage Wall Sculpture to representing the cultural and historical connection between the Hmong in Minnesota and the Hmong in the Changsha area. Changsha sent a team of 13 artisans to assist and train the construction crew to reconstruct the replica gift pavilion. The West Entrance Archway entry to the garden is currently under construction. The next phase of the project will complete the landscaping from the Pavilion to the water and establish a Hmong Cultural Plaza. The garden will eventually include an East Entrance Moongate and Donor Wall, an enclosed classroom pavilion, a Tai Qi plaza, a covered walkway and a small viewing pavilion.
"It's more beautiful than anything we imagined when we started this project so many years ago," said Linda Mealey-Lohmann, president and co-founder of the Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society.
To celebrate the grand opening of the St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden, an award ceremony and banquet to recognize and honor all of the volunteers and donors will be held at the St. Paul Hotel on July 12, 2019. Attending the ceremony will be St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter along with other distinguished guests, including Senator FoungHawj, Representative Tim Mahoney, and several dignitaries from St. Paul’s sister city, Changsha. In addition to celebrating this sister relationship, the celebration will recognize the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States.