Dragon Boat Race Tradition Continues In Flushing
The 22nd annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival took place in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on August 4 and 5 in celebration of the Year of the Dragon. The race started at 9 a.m and lasted throughout the day until about 5 p.m. The tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual Chinese rite commemorating the idealistic poet and reformer Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the third century BC, to protest against his emperor’s policies. The locals raced in their boats in an attempt to rescue the poet. To prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, the locals beat their drums and splashed their paddles. The Dragon Boat Festival is a multicultural celebration and sporting event. The boats are created by the craftsmen in Hong Kong, weigh one ton each and are colorfully painted with dragon heads at the front and the tails at the rear. The boats can hold up to 20 crewmen, consisting of 18 paddlers, a drummer and a person for steering. The festival attracted more than 2,500 participants, not only from the United States, but also Canada. In addition to the boat races, there were other festival events featuring the women’s invitational and sponsors’ challenge, a photo contest as well as presentations on the Verizon Stage of traditional Chinese arts: martial arts demonstrations, the traditional Dragon Dance, musical and other diverse performances of folk arts and crafts. This year, the award-winning Lion Dancers from Zhanjian, Guangdong, China made a special appearance.