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High-profile comings and goings at Hartsfield-Jackson
By Amy Schneider

Hartsfield-Jackson is the scene of thousands of welcomes and farewells every day, but one week in February featured two very high-profile transitions: the departure of beloved Zoo Atlanta panda Mei Lan and the arrival of a costumed Powerball character to celebrate the Georgia Lottery’s newest jackpot game.

On February 2, the Georgia Lottery turned the Atrium into a festive dance party to welcome the Powerball game to the state. After a costumed Powerball character arrived to a warm greeting from a Mega Millions ball character, the music started and a “flash mob” began.

Led by the jackpot mascots, the dancers — who gradually joined in until they numbered more than 100 — delighted travelers with a choreographed routine to a medley of appropriately themed songs, including “The Power” by Snap! and “I Wanna Be Rich” by Calloway.

Those who missed out on the live event need not despair: The Georgia Lottery’s YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBAHsk3DdB0 enables everyone to experience the fun. The video has been viewed nearly 25,000 times to date.

The Airport also is sponsoring an essay contest for the students; this year’s topic is how the election of President Barack Obama will affect the African-American community.

Two days later, a crowd of well-wishers bid goodbye to Mei Lan, the giant panda born in 2006 at Zoo Atlanta, as she and a keeper flew out of Hartsfield-Jackson en route to her new home in China.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Aviation General Manager Ben DeCosta were among those who spoke at the press conference beside a specially designed FedEx cargo freighter bearing a large panda image on the nose and a customized logo on the body to commemorate the event. Several media representatives were on hand to cover Mei Lan’s flight.

The FedEx freighter’s first stop was Dulles International Airport in Washington, where Tai Shan, a male panda from the National Zoo, joined Mei Lan for a nonstop flight to China. The pandas arrived safely and are adjusting to life at sanctuaries in their new country.

To see the Airport’s video tribute to Mei Lan, go to the Hartsfield-Jackson YouTube page: www.youtube.com/atlantahartsfield#p/u/1/tHqVThN8RUg.



Mei Lan prepares to board her flight to Washington.

Hartsfield-Jackson firefighters give a water-cannon salute to Mei Lan’s flight before its departure.

© 2010 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.

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