#PickoftheWeek | The Oldest, Largest, Most Traditional Dragon Boat Festival in the United States Returns to Queens
BY QEDC It's In Queens
To celebrate the Year of the Ox and NYC’s Summer of Recovery, the 2021 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York will return to Queens on Saturday, Aug. 7.
Due to the Covid pandemic, HKDBFNY did not take place in 2020, but organizers plan to re-start the 30-year tradition with a scaled-down, one day event while following all current New York State safety protocols in 2021.
HKDBFNY, whose sponsors include HSBC, will feature invitational races at Flushing Meadows Corona Park’s Meadow Lake. The colorful contestant boats will have a dragon head at the front and dragon tail at the rear. Crew members — paddlers, drummer, steering person – will power them through the water.
On the nearby shore, a stage will host an all-day cultural program with live music by the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York, martial arts by New York Shaolin Temple, and tales by professional storyteller Jonathan Kruk. As this is New York State’s largest multi-cultural festival, the fun will include a Caribbean steel drum performance from the CASYM Steel Orchestra and other non-Asian presentations.
At other spots, sponsors and community-based organizations will staff booths to provide giveaways and interact with the public. (Food trucks will operate in lieu of the traditional international food court to respect safety norms.)
Admission is free, and activities will proceed from 9 am to 4 pm, rain or shine. (An opening ceremony is set for noon.)
Only fully vaccinated attendees/racers ─ or those with proof of a negative Covid test within 72 hours of the event ─ will be admitted. A vaccine team will be on hand to administer Covid shots to those who wish them. Plus, Northwell Health will provide information related to Covid recovery and other health issues.
“We feel it is very important for HKDBFNY to have an event this year focusing on three major issues: vaccination/public health safety; HKDBFNY’s contribution to the reopening of the NYC economy; and bringing a focus to the anti-Asian + other hate crime issue,” stated HKDBFNY Board Chairman Henry Wan. “We look forward to hosting a fully vaccinated audience this year.”
The Dragon Boat tradition dates back to a tale about an idealistic poet and performer, Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the third century BC to protest his emperor’s policies. As he languished in the water, locals got in their boats in an attempt to rescue him. They had to beat drums and splash paddles to scare away dragons and other animals, according to legend.
HKDBFNY attendees are advised to take the 7 Train to the Mets-Willets Point station and transfer from there to special MTA shuttle buses that will go directly to the Meadow Lake area and back.