POMONA, CALIFORNIA —
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in new styles at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California.
When the sun sets, and visitors step through the red gates lit with light, they enter a world of illumination, satin and steel.
The lantern exhibit at the county fair is called Luminasia. Many visitors who expected to see traditional lanterns were caught off guard by creations of fish, frogs and even the Statue of Liberty.
Event Associate Producer Ge Liang is impressed with these works of art.
“When I first saw the pictures I thought to myself, 'wow how can this be made?' It is very very fascinating to me," said Liang.
These lanterns are a specialty from the city of Zigong in China’s Sichuan province. Known for their expertise, artisans from Zigong flew to Los Angeles and built each creation from scratch.
“They are trained at a very young age on how to make them," said Liang.
From welders to electricians to fabric experts who stretch satin over the steel frames lit with lights, the 49 artisans spent a month creating lanterns that are whimsical, mythical and lifelike.
"I see the the results of my efforts becoming a reality," said Song Hui, one of the metal workers. "Everywhere that we finish a job, we feel a sense of achievement. It reflects their value whether it is in China or in other countries."
Song says while these types of creations have been featured in China, not many people in the United States have seen this kind of lantern art.
"It helps promote Chinese culture around the world and helps other people understand the Chinese culture," he said.
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles County Fair Association Jim Henwood says the display is also a way local residents of different cultures can better understand the large Chinese population that lives in Southern California.
“How do we bridge the ethnic diversity in a cultural environment that is important and significant here in Southern California?" asked Henwood.
One answer is Luminasia. Visitors can stroll through the outdoor exhibit and view illuminated creations from Chinese myths and legends, such as a dragon, phoenix and the animals of the Chinese zodiac. But visitors will also find some of the wonders of the world such as the Egyptian Sphinx and the Easter Island statues. There are also lit displays iconic to Los Angeles, such as the giant Hollywood sign.
Everyone, including Marvin and Mayra Fuentes and their young son seems to have a favorite.
“The big dragon, I think, for myself," said Marvin.
“I kind of like the Dodgers [Los Angeles baseball team] stuff - that was kind of cool. Cause it's so big and completely L.A,, which one did you like? [asking a child] He like the frogs, the moving frogs," said Mayra.
Whether for the young or the young at heart, there seems to be something here that captures the imagination in this wonderland of lights.