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A dragon awakens in Times Square ahead of Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Queens

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival awakening ceremony in Times Square
Dragon Boat awakening ceremony (Photo by Dean Moses)

A dragon was awakened on July 13 in Times Square.

With the 30th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival coming to Queens just over the horizon on July 30 and 31, the festival took over the beating heart of Manhattan.

A large boat used in the competitive races was set up in Father Duffy Square, complete with ores and dragon headpieces. Passersby gathered around the craft, intrigued by the setup.

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival awakening ceremony in Times Square
Photo by Dean Moses

“This is the official Dragon Boat awakening ceremony. After the festival each year, we put the boats away. And then, about this time of year, a couple of weeks before the festival, we bring the boats out and we do an official blessing and awakening ceremony and a brief performance,” host David Archer explained to a group of spectators.

The ceremony included a stunning display of acrobatics performed by the New York Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Center, using traditional fans to create a captivating dance routine complete with death-defying flips.

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival awakening ceremony in Times Square
Photo by Dean Moses

Buddhist Monk Shi Hong Sheng also performed the awakening blessing, which symbolized prosperity and good fortune for all those involved in this year’s Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival. This special ceremony was followed by several dignitaries, such as Chairman of the Board and Festival Organizer Henry Wan, the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office director from New York and guests grabbing paint brushes to dot the eye of the dragon.

The Dragon Boat Festival will honor AAPI culture and celebrate the Year of the Tiger. Historically, this event was first held in 1991 in Battery Park but has since moved to Meadow Lake, Flushing Meadows in Corona Park. The event is a free international, multicultural sporting event and will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival awakening ceremony in Times Square
Photo by Dean Moses

Event organizers emphasize that there are three major issues being put forward during this two-day extravaganza: contributing to the reopening of New York City after the COVID-19 pandemic devastated businesses, bringing awareness to anti-Asian hate crimes and promoting post-COVID mental and physical wellness as well as vaccinations.

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