(Minghui.org) Sixteen years have passed, yet my memory of this particular event remains vivid and fresh in my mind. I consider myself to be a lucky man to have witnessed this event, attended by more than 10,000 people. It stands as a testament to Falun Dafa's tremendous popularity in China before the persecution began.

Falun Dafa group exercise, Changchun, 1999

It occurred on January 11, 1999, one day after the opening ceremony of the 9th China National Winter Games in Changchun, Jilin Province. This was only six months before the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) began persecuting Falun Dafa.

More than 10,000 people participated in this group exercise at Wenhua Square in Changchun, despite the bitterly cold weather common to this northeastern China city. Those assembled took the opportunity of the Winter Games to raise awareness of Falun Gong, as Falun Dafa is also known.

The cold weather was deterring many other morning exercise groups from coming out as usual, yet 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners would soon arrive. The square was soon brimming with people. Many had to stand on the road south of the square and in the streets on its east and west sides. The atmosphere was peaceful and uplifting. 

Knowing there would be a group exercise that day, I went with other practitioners and took a professional camera with me. We are all very happy and excited to be in Changchun, the hometown of Master Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Dafa.

We arrived at Wenhua Square before dawn, only to find many fellow practitioners already there. It was -20 degrees Celsius. The square was soon full of people. Before the break of day, practitioners were already in lines and ready to do the exercises. I attempted to film the full view of the group exercise, but I could not find a vantage point high enough to capture the full square. Another practitioner then built me a platform from which I was able to film the whole square.

A local practitioner gave me a ride on a wagon so that I could videotape the group exercise. It is a highly valued record of history.

After filming, I went to the square center and interviewed some of the practitioners. They were all ages and from all walks of life. They expressed their gratitude to Falun Dafa from the bottom of their hearts, and I was very moved. It was like a trip full of grace and mercy.

I remember one who was in the army. He told me: “We have gone through immeasurable adversities to get the opportunity to practice Falun Gong ...” His words made sense to me, especially when I look back on it nowadays.

I was so absorbed in my filming that I forgot about the cold. I was very impressed by the devotion and kindness of the Changchun practitioners. After I finished the interviews, I sensed that my feet were numb from the cold, but they soon warmed up again.

After the exercises, I met an older woman. She looked energetic and vibrant. Another practitioner said to me: “Do you know that she was severely hunchbacked before? One day she was doing the Falun Dafa exercises and others heard her bones cracking and her back straightened out! After that she was normal.” She admitted that it was true, with her eyes full of tears.