TAMPA Dignitaries from abroad and local prominent citizens packed the house during the grand opening celebration of the new Florida Chinese Cultural Center.
The facility at 13367 N. 56th St. — meant as a gathering place for people of Chinese descent to socialize, as well as a center where others can learn the language or explore the history and customs of China — drew a crowd of more than 100 on a recent Saturday afternoon.
Deputy Consul-General Chuanbing Zhang of the Houston Chinese Consulate and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn were high on the list of notable guests, mainly of Chinese heritage.
Zhang said he is pleased to have a centralized place in the community that promotes Chinese culture. “Tampa has a relatively large Chinese community and we have maintained an important relationship with Tampa,” he said.
Buckhorn concurred, calling the center’s grand opening “a good day” for Tampa and the Chinese community.
“This is important for a city that was established by immigrants,” he said. “We are a city that recognizes diversity and a city that understands that, because of our diversity, we are better for it.”
Hanhua (Howard) Yu, chairman of the Florida Chinese Cultural Center, labeled its opening a “milestone.”
“It comes after years of hard work…and it solidifies the Chinese community,” said Yu, who outlined some of the center’s recreational uses that include dances, yoga, ping-pong and mahjong, a card game of Chinese origin.
It also will be home to winter and summer camps for children when school is not in session.
The grand opening affair also included performances by an ensemble of folk dancers, an acrobat and musicians who also charmed the audience by way of the erhu and the horse-head violin, traditional Chinese instruments.
Visit www.floridachineseculturalcenter.org for more information.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]