It’s in Queens
#PickoftheWeek | All dragons on your marks…Get set…Go!
It’s a great way to make a big splash.
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival will attract a record-breaking number of 214 teams to Flushing Meadows Corona Park this weekend – Aug. 12 and Aug. 13; 9 am to 5 pm on both days – and attendance is free.
The colorful teak boats – consisting of 18 rowers with a drummer and a steer person – will match strokes in various divisions in Meadow Lake, as they vie for cash, prizes, honor, and the chance to compete in a countrywide championship. This year’s categories include 10-person vessels and the Municipal Invitational, featuring squads from the offices of Mayor Bill De Blasio, Borough President Melinda Katz, and Congresswoman Grace Meng, as well as the NYPD and Parks Department.
Meanwhile on shore, a multi-cultural party will include copious amounts of traditional Asian folk arts and crafts (i.e. calligraphy, kite-making, paper-cutting), plus martial arts by the Shaolin Monks, West Indian music by the CASYM Steel Orchestra, and a diverse food court with everything from soy sauce drum sticks to Peruvian-style corn on the cob to Bruce Cost Ginger Ale products.
At other times, the Long Island City-based troupe Dance Entropy will perform a piece entitled “Wild Kingdom” and master storyteller Jonathan Kruk will entertain children with tales about monsters from Asia. Of course, a large dragon will serpent around the premises.
More than 50,000 attendees and 2,500 participants are expected for this 27th annual Queens festival, the largest one in the United States.
Dragon boat racing dates back to 278 B.C., when poet Qu Yuan jumped into the Ni Lo River in Hunan Province. Idealist and patriotic, he was suicidal because of political unrest in his home state of Chu. According to legend, local fisherman rowed their boats to the despondent poet to save his life while drumming and splashing their paddles to scare away flesh-eating water dragons. Qu Yuan died, but his legacy lives on via a tradition that is practiced throughout China and the Chinese diaspora on the fifth day of the fifth lunar year.
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Images: Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York Inc.