NEW: Is festival west of Boca on Trump, Chinese president’s agenda?


Local, national and international media are prodding the organizers of a west Boca Raton festival for what would be big news — a visit from President Donald J. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The closing ceremony of Hanart Culture’s eight-week Chinese Lantern Festival at Sunset Cove Amphitheater west of the city coincides with Chinese President Xi Jianping’s South Florida visit this weekend.

Invitations to the festival were extended to the White House and Chinese President, said Linda Hamburger, spokeswoman for Hanart.

» RELATED: West Boca will make Trump, Chinese president feel right at home

“We’d be delighted and thrilled if even a representative came,” said Hamburger, who has fielded questions about the possible visit from Chinese news networks since last week.

Hamburger, who has worked for entertainment companies that have organized rallies and visits for presidential candidates, said notice of a leader’s visit is known to come less than 24 hours in advance.

“The fact that the president of China and Trump happen to be meeting at the same time (as the festival closing) was happenstance,” Hamburger said.

So a visit to the festival from Xi or Trump is not out of reach.

Xi is expected to stay at Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa in Manalapan on Thursday and Friday. Trump will be spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, just seven miles north of Eau Palm Beach.

If they were to visit the lantern festival, which features more than 800 illuminated lanterns handmade in China as well as entertainment, they might do so on Thursday to avoid the crowds of Friday’s closing reception..

But Friday is not out of the question.

More than 1,000 people have RSVP-ed for the reception, themed around diplomacy and cultural exchange, including diplomats from each country, some of the best table tennis players in the United States and local, national and international media, Hamburger said.

The reception nods to former President Richard Nixon’s era of ping-pong diplomacy, a term that refers to the exchange of table tennis players between the United States and China in the 1970s in what morphed into an unlikely diplomatic move. The shared sport led to renewed dialogue between the two countries, and paved the path for Nixon’s China visit in 1972.

The venue will be familiar to Trump, who this time last year held a campaign rally at Sunset Cove Amphitheater.

That could mean, Hamburger said, the venue has been vetted, which may alleviate security risks.

“I can’t venture to guess what may or may not be on their agenda,” she said. “But they’ve already checked out the venue once before.”



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