On the 18th of September, 2004, the annual hot air balloon race was held in Forest Park in downtown St. Louis. It is the largest hot air balloon race in the US and also one of the biggest sporting events in Missouri. Many hot air balloonists from across the US came to participate. There was also dancing and singing performances, exhibitions and a variety of children's games, attracting about 120,000 spectators, including local residents and people from surrounding areas.
Forest Park happens to be the location for the Falun Gong exercise practice site for the people of St. Louis. After practising the five-sets of exercises, practitioners displayed posters and banners relating to Falun Gong, and handed out leaflets to people who came to watch the hot air balloon race.
From noon to 4:30p.m., when the hot air balloons were inflated and then launched, the spectators were relaxing on the lawn as they viewed the balloons floating in the sky. The Falun Gong informational leaflets were well received, and soon, all the materials practitioners had brought with them were distributed.
A 72-year-old gentleman came over to where practitioners were demonstrating the Falun Gong exercises and started a conversation. He said he lived in a city in a neighbouring state. Several years ago, practitioners went to his city to introduce Falun Dafa, and he obtained a leaflet. He said that he had still held onto the leaflet that he was given and was happy to be able to once again meet with some practitioners. He said he would come next week to the practice site to learn the exercises.
A woman passed by the practice site after the race was over, and watched the exercise performance. She asked one practitioner whether these were the same exercises as illustrated in the leaflet that she had just been given. After she was told that it was, she emotionally said that the exercises are wonderful, and so peaceful. She also expressed her desire to learn them.
Many people learnt how the exercise movements right there and then.
The Falun Gong practitioners who were present noticed that people were happy to take materials about Falun Gong, and that more people wanted to learn the exercises and find out more about Falun Gong.
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