They were made to sing for their supper, er, lunch but their host treated them to magic tricks, a song and a military parade.
That should have been a fair exchange, but no.
More than 250 homeless people in New York gave eccentric Chinese millionaire Chen Guangbiao the Bronx cheers for inviting them to a fancy lunch of beef filet, tuna and berries only to pull the best dessert from the menu — US$300 cash.
It turns out that the promised cash ingredient was given lumpsum to a shelter that has been housing them. They were not amused, according to the New York Daily News.
“Prey on somebody else. Why are you preying on the homeless?” one yelled at Chen after the lunch at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.
Another vowed to stay put until Chen coughed up the cash. “These people have hope. They’re hoping Chen delivers.”
But a couple of hours later, Chen was gone, so was his money.
Still, until it got to the end, the party had largely gone to script.
Chen entertained his guests with a high-pitched rendition of We Are The World and did magic tricks as they ate. Then he capped off his stage presence by striding up in a green military uniform, backed by an army of 200 volunteers.
And this being a show of “harmonizing relations between China and the United States”, the attendees were asked to sing Good Model Citizen Lei Feng, a patriotic Chinese song about a soldier who was hailed for his selfless service by the late Chairman Mao.
That his guests left full, albeit with a heavy heart, might have made it worth every dime for Chen.
The recycling tycoon from Jiangsu province spent more than US$1 million to orchestrate the event and promote it with full-page ads in the New York Times and the Washington Post.
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