(Minghui.org) Falun Dafa practitioners in Chicago held a series of activities in Milton Lee Olive Park on May 7, 2017, in conjunction with worldwide celebrations of World Falun Dafa Day.

May 13, World Falun Dafa Day, is Falun Dafa founder Master Li Hongzhi's birthday, and the anniversary of the day that he first introduced the practice to the public in China's northeastern city of Changchun in 1992.

During the May 7 event, practitioners from the Chicago area demonstrated the Falun Dafa exerices together and celebrated World Falun Dafa Day with vocal and instrumental performances and poetry recitations. They also shared their experiences about how they benefited from the practice and expressed their deep respect and gratitude to Master Li, who made the teachings available to them for improving wellbeing of mind and body.

Doing the exercises together in Milton Lee Oliver Park, Chicago on May 7, 2017

Master Li's Historic Chicago Visit

Eighteen years ago, on June 25, 1999, the Illinois State government honored Mr. Li Hongzhi with the “Outstanding Service Award” in recognition of his great contribution to the world through Falun Dafa's tremendous effects on improving physical and spiritual wellbeing. Chicago also designated the day as “Chicago Master Li Hongzhi Day.”

Master Li spoke at an awards ceremony on June 25, 1999 when he accepted awards issued by the Governor of Illinois, the Minister of State Finance and the Mayor of Chicago.

Two days later, Falun Dafa practitioners from around the world attended the Chicago Falun Dafa Experience Sharing Conference where Master Li gave a lecture. This was the last public lecture that Master gave before the persecution started a month later in China. There was also a group exercise practice in Milton Lee Olive Park that day, and Master Li visited and helped practitioners with their exercise movements.

Practitioners from around the world do the Falun Dafa exercises on June 27, 1999 in Milton Lee Olive Park, Chicago.

Ms. Xu Yanyi from Chicago recalled, “My knees could not bend well when I did the second exercise due to a long-term knee problem. However, in the middle of doing the second exercise, I suddenly felt my knees bend naturally. I opened my eyes and saw Master walking past me.”

Ms. Zhu Hong recalled, “Falun Dafa practitioners' peaceful appeal in Beijing on April 25, 1999 pushed Falun Dafa to the world's stage. Many journalists were there when Master came to Chicago. Some waited to interview Master while we were doing the exercises, because they found it hard to believe that so many people practice Falun Dafa.”

Unforgettable Memories

On the special occasion of the 25th anniversary of Falun Dafa's introduction to the public, several practitioners from Chicago reviewed their experiences after taking up the practice more than two decades ago.

Mr. Zhao gave up all other qigong practice methods as soon as he read the book Falun Gong. He immediately went to Beijing to seek Master Li and ask to be His disciple.

Ji Hong studies in Chicago and was eight years old in 1999. He was physically weak due to illness but he has not needed medication since he started practicing Falun Dafa.

In 2002, practitioners in Chicago filed a lawsuit against Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese dictator who initiated the persecution against Falun Dafa. In the ensuing years, practitioners from around the world visited Chicago to support the lawsuit.

Public Celebration of World Falun Dafa Day

Over the past 18 years, practitioners in Chicago have persevered in their efforts to raise awareness of the brutal persecution in China. They have peacefully done the exercises and talked to people about the persecution in front of the local Chinese Consulate, in public places in downtown Chicago and in Chinatown.

Practitioners once again gathered in Milton Lee Olive Park on May 7, 2017 to do the exercises as a large group and distribute flyers. Their peaceful movements drew the attention of many residents and tourists who took flyers and asked about learning Falun Dafa. Some people who had heard about the persecution in China expressed their support for bringing the brutalities to an end. Many said that they were pleased that practitioners can freely practice their belief in the U.S.

A passerby reads informational boards about Falun Dafa.

Practitioners present musical performance to celebrate World Falun Dafa Day and respectfully wish Master Li a happy birthday.

Practitioners from the greater Chicago area gather to express their gratitude to Master Li on His birthday.

The day's activities ended with the song “Ode to Master's Grace.”