A fleet of more than 170 Dragon Boat teams roared into Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and took over Meadow Lake during a weekend of racing and multicultural celebrations.
The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York (HKDBF-NY) kicked off its 20th year early in the morning on Saturday, August 7 and didn’t come ashore until late Sunday, August 8.
During the opening ceremonies, City Councilmember Dan Halloran said that this event remains one of his favorite in the borough and that the organizers outdo themselves each year.
“This is the most diversified county in the city, which makes it the most diversified county in the country,” said Halloran. “Today, we celebrate that diversity.”
Dragon Boat Festival Chairman Henry Wan said that the dedication of the teams is what makes the event so successful year after year. Coupled with all of the other forms of entertainment, he believes this event will only continue to grow and expand.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Wan. “But there’s more to come and we’re looking forward to another 20 years at least.”
The DCH Dragon Boat Racing Club was one of the big winners, capturing the U.S. Open Dragon Boat Championship in the open division. This was DCH’s 19th year participating in the race and they came to Queens after a full year of training around the world.
Randy Ng, one of DCH’s coaches, said that winning overseas doesn’t compare to the feeling of winning in one’s hometown, which Queens is to many of the paddlers.
“This one here is for our friends and family,” said Ng. “Friends and family don’t usually get to see us race, so this is the best opportunity for them to come out and support us.”
DCH figured in to every division’s top three, including the 250-meter, the 500-meter and the women’s divisions. They faced a lot of challenges during the race, but Ng feels they met each one with the confidence supplied by their supporters.
“It feels good,” he said. “New York is always a race that has big gambles to it.”
-Additional reporting by Jessica Lyons