Dragons on the Water This August

Boat Festival At Flushing Meadows

Colorful boats honoring a tradition dating back several millenia will take to the waters of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s Meadow Lake during the 22nd annual New York Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival scheduled to take place rain or shine on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4-5.

Teams of rowers in colorfully-decorated “dragon boats” will race on Flushing Meadow Corona Park’s Meadow Lake during the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival scheduled to take place during the weekend of Aug. 4-5. The event is free for spectators.

Free and open to the public, the festival features dragon boat races on the lake as well as a host of multicultural events including music and dance performances, arts and crafts and face painting.

Dragon boats, which are long canoes adorned with decorations and colors and made to resemble dragons, were created based on the legend of Qu Yuan, an ancient Chinese poet who lived between 340 and 278 B.C .

According to the story, Qu Yuan advocated for many years for reforms in his home state of Chu, but was eventually banished by the king. While in exile, he continued to write poetry while wandering the countryside.

In 278, QuYuan took his own life by drowning himself into the Ni Lo River after hearing news that his homeland had been invaded. Local fisherman raced into their boats to try and save him, but were too late.

As a tribute to his patriotism, they threw rice dumplings into the river; these food items are a part of the festival, which traditionally takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Asian lunar year calendar.

The dragon boat races in Meadow Lake will kick off following an opening ceremony onAug. 4 at 11:30 a.m. A dragon dancing team and percussionists will welcome all to the event. Elected officials and other dignitaries are also scheduled to participate.

Each of the contests vary in distance from 250 to 500 meters. In addition to teams competing for the U.S. Dragon Boat Championships, there will also be races where teams will row on behalf of charities for prizes.

For more information about the festival, visit www.hkdbf-ny.org.