A Promise of Pandas in NYC by 2020
While most of the city prepared for the oncoming snowstorm, an enthusiastic group of nearly 450 Black and White clad guests gathered for the last big party at the historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel’s Starlight Roof ballroom. A glittering mix of New York’s bold faced names gathered to support a quest to bring a pair of Giant Pandas from China to New York City to live here permanently. The gala cleared just under ½ million dollars.
This non-profit project is a longtime idea of Chinese-American TV personality Yue-Sai Kan and NY-Dem Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12). “The greatest city on earth deserves to be home to Giant Pandas; these iconic creatures are said to bring good luck and good cheer - both of which our City can use more of” she says. She was joined by her co-chairs Chairman Maurice (Hank) Greenberg and civic leader and philanthropists, John Catsimatidis.
“This project will be beneficial to NYC on both an economic and political level” said John Catsimatidis.
“Not only will this endeavor benefit Chinese-American relations; the Panda’s new permanent home will also be a popular tourist attraction, acting as an economic spark plug for the neighborhood that houses the Panda Pavilion.” The Pandas Are Coming to NYC will raise private funds for the panda project.
Catsimatidis drew cheers from the crowd when he predicted that the Pandas would be enjoying life in the Big Apple by 2020. The“Pandas Are Coming to NYC” aims to break ground in the next 2 years on this undertaking with letters of support & welcome from New York’s community leaders including Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo.
Prominent attendees included Amb. Zhang Qiyue, China's Consul General to NY, Mrs. Margo Catsimatidis, model Carmen Dell'Orefice who has been in the industry for nearly seven decades, The Baroness Gabrielle Von Langendorff, Omar Sharif Jr., Hunt Slonem, Sharon Bush, Andy Stein and Larry and Wendy Rockefeller, Jill Sackler, Hon. Peter Vallone, Jonathan and Somers Farkas, Jean Shafiroff among a number of notable elected New York and Chinese officials.
The event was emceed by Broadcasting Hall of Famer Ernie Anastos, who introduced the brilliant orchestral ensemble (aged 4-12) Joyous Kids who encouragingly suggested that “it would be great if one of the new Pandas should be named Joy!” Guest appearances by Joe Piscopo, of Saturday Night Live fame, and actor/director, Stephen Baldwin and even NY State GOP Chair Edward Cox who shared historic stories of his joining his Father-in-Law, President Richard Nixon in China in the 1970’s as our two nations began to open up to each other.
Maloney also revealed that a “Dream Habitat Competition” for Sino-US architects would soon be launched. The competition to design a world class Panda habitat will be juried by a blue-ribbon panel. She said to watch the official website http://www.PandasNYC.org for the announcement.
The non-profit group The Pandas Are Coming to NYC Inc., is forming partnerships in the NYC school system to create a Friends Of The Pandas affiliation. The first school chosen for this Partnership is a Bronx High School, represented by Principal Aysa Johnson, who is credited with making her school one of the most improved in the education system. Speaking before video clips & live-stream of frolicking pandas, Maloney closed the evening by noting, “In the Asiatic world, this is the Year of the Rooster. I hope that next year here in New York, it’s the Year of the Panda!”