Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-Je visited the Daan Park Outdoor Amphitheater in the afternoon of March 14 to attend the 2020 Taipei Azalea Festival Concert. Before the event officially kicked off, Ko also shared some anecdotes of the Azalea Festival with the audience.
The mayor indicated that the 4th Taipei Azalea Festival is inspired by the theme of “Our Promise in Spring,” and he said that while working at the National Taiwan University Hospital, Professor Hsieh Feng-Chou, an OB-GYN and a lecturer at National Taiwan University (NTU) once told him, “if Taipei is to become a more civilized city with abundant culture, it must establish its brand and characteristics.” Since the azalea is not only the school flower of NTU but also the city flower of Taipei, Professor Hsieh therefore shared an idea with him to expand the Azalea Festival to beyond the walls of NTU to reach south Taipei. Ko mentioned that he subsequently contacted and communicated with NTU’s Vice President for General Affairs as well as various departments and offices in Taipei City Government to contemplate how to transform the Azalea Festival into the city image of south Taipei.
The mayor pointed out that over the last 4 years the city government has planted nearly 400,000 azalea flower seedlings throughout south Taipei, with roughly 170,000 in Daan Park alone. He emphasized that building a city’s brand requires a long time, and despite the city government’s efforts in cultivating flower seedlings in south Taipei every year, there is still a considerable way to go to meet the ultimate goal of creating an azalea city every March. Consequently, the city government will continue to work hard to make Taipei a more cultured and civilized city.
Lastly, Ko also thanked the Yongkang Shopping District, Gongguan Shopping District, as well as many contracted stores and independent bookstores in the Wenrootin region for supporting this year’s Azalea Festival. A variety of merchandise derived from the azalea including coffee, cakes, pancakes, and picnic blankets, as well as handmade cultural & creative products have been designed. In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the mayor stated that after careful consideration by the city government, it was decided that since the azalea concert today is held in an outdoor venue, it will continue as planned. Still, Ko reminded citizens at the concert to monitor their health conditions, wash their hands frequently, and wear surgical masks.
After announcing the official start of the concert, Ko also received a media interview. In regards to the Azalea Festival, a journalist asked the mayor that even though Tianyuan Temple in Tamsui has issued an announcement advising the public not to go to the flower shows, and the NTU Azalea Festival has also adopted the online approach, why does the city government insist on organizing the Azalea Festival? Ko replied that since today’s event takes place at an outdoor venue, coupled with the fact that the city government has learned from the previous SARS experience, where the medical staff became infected during dining hours, all food and beverage stalls have therefore been canceled for activities organized by the city government.
Ko stressed that people should wear surgical masks, wash their hands, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Although it is essential to make preparations for outbreak prevention, there is no need to panic; when faced with conditions such as overcrowding, unknown participants or closed venues, it is imperative to wear a surgical mask for protection because in doing so people will still be able to engage in outdoor activities.
The journalist asked if the number of visitors to this year’s Azalea Festival has been affected by the outbreak; the mayor replied that the number has decreased significantly compared to the previous year.