Wilton resident Ann Klotz had special, but familiar, visitors this month — the Yu family.
The family of four from Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia in North China, came to visit Klotz for Chinese New Year and stayed with her in her Millstone Road home.
Klotz and her late husband, Donald, met the father of the family, Ting Fei — who goes by the English name of Richard — when they went to China in 1986.
Since then, Klotz said, the Yu family has “made a number of trips” to Wilton and they have become “very close friends.”
“I’m their American grandma,” she said.
The Yu family’s recent visit was the first in five years. Richard was accompanied by his wife, Caoxuemei, also known as Grace; their teenage daughter, Yulan; and young adult son, Donald, who was actually named after Klotz’s husband.
Donald said Chinese New Year is a “big” annual event in China and also the country’s “longest holiday.”
In China, Chinese New Year celebrations start on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar and last about 23 days — ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year.
Richard said it’s similar to Thanksgiving or Christmas in the United States in that people visit and spend time with family.
Richard and Grace arrived in Wilton on Feb. 6, and their children arrived Feb. 13.
Before their parents picked them up at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Donald and Yulan flew to California and went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Yulan is a “Harry Potter fan,” Richard explained.
Since their arrival, the Yu family has been quite busy.
The family went to New York City and took two trips up to Boston, where an old friend of Richard lives. They also went shopping and met state Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26), and Yulan and Donald got to see the new Black Panther movie at the Prospector Theater in Ridgefield.
“I like Marvel movies,” said Yulan.
Donald said the film won’t be released in China until March, which means he and his sister will probably be “the only people in China who have seen it.”
Members of the Yu and Klotz families also celebrated Richard’s birthday with “a big, big party” on Feb. 15.
They took a trip to Ridgefield High School one morning to speak with students studying Mandarin Chinese about Hohhot and the “differences and sameness of the schools” there, said Klotz. The students also got to ask Yulan and Donald questions in Chinese and English.
When it comes to speaking English, Donald and Yulan are no strangers. Donald said he spent the last two summers learning English at the Boston Academy of English. “Yulan also had her English class at Boston University,” said Richard.
Richard also knows English. Yulan said her mother is “trying to learn.”
Despite the language barrier, Klotz said, Grace is “a wonderful friend” and the two have been spending time working on picture puzzles together.
Grace is also “a fabulous cook,” said Klotz. “I have a whole freezer of Chinese dumplings. She makes everything very good.”
The Yu family will be leaving Feb. 24, and Klotz said she hopes they return soon.