Queens got a taste of Far East tradition as the borough president helped awake a sleeping dragon on the steps of Borough Hall on Tuesday, July 13.
“When you see Queens, you see the world,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. “For a generation now, this unique annual event in our flagship park unites centuries of Chinese cultural traditions with Queens’ recognition as the most diverse county in America.”
Marshall was joined by Buddhist monks and lion dancers from the World Chan Buddhist Association in the ancient ceremony of dotting the eyes of the dragons in order to awake them.
“It is an honor that this important cultural event takes place in Queens,” said Henry Wan of the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival of New York (HKDBF-NY). “Queens has the largest Chinese population in the city and we are proud to honor our culture by recognizing it with the festival that takes place in the Year of the Tiger.”
This was the second such ceremony, the first being in New York’s Central Park on July 1, leading up to the 20th annual Dragon Boat Festival on August 7 and 8 on Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
The festival is a contest involving more than 150 teams from throughout the world who will be competing for $20,000 in cash and prizes.
Besides the races on the water, many landlocked activities await the thousands of visitors expected to descend upon the park for the festival. Chinese culture will be on display with music, performances, food vendors and much more.
Marshal, who visited China this year, said that the spirit of cultural appreciation awakened with this festival should remain alive and well, even after the race has concluded.
“I was in China this year and told the people that we have been holding this event in Queens for the past 20 years,” Marshall said. “They were so excited and proud that their beloved tradition was continued here in New York.”
Team applications are still being accepted through the month of July. For more information, visit www.hkdbfny.org.