Queens kids got up close and personal with some mythical creatures at Dragon Boat Family Day at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) on Saturday, July 16.
“Children are the future of the competition, so it is important to involve them with the Dragon Boats while they are young,” said Henry Wan, chairman for the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (HKDBF), which will be held on Meadow Lake on August 13 and 14. “We are a family event and we look forward to seeing all of these kids at the festival.”
An actual Dragon Boat held center stage in NYSCI’s Great Hall and children marveled at the 40-foot long teak boat. Expert rowers and amateur athletes were also in attendance, passing their knowledge onto the next generation of racers.
Children, as well as adults, tested their strength on four paddle machines and raced against one another in a computer simulation. June Lee, director of government and external affairs for Verizon, the sponsor for the festival, said that she had no idea how difficult paddling was until she tried it herself.
“I didn’t think it would be that hard. At first it seemed like a breeze, but the more you row the rougher it gets,” she said. “Now I have to give these paddlers even more credit.”
Besides the simulations, attendees were also treated to a Lion Dance and a Kung Fu performance by professional martial artists of all ages. The high-flying stunts had children and adults alike gasping with excitement and prompted one child to yell out, “I want a sword!”
This was the first time that the NYSCI and the HKDBF collaborated on an event, but Dr. Margaret Honey, president and CEO of the museum said that it won’t be the last.
“This project helps us accomplish what has been my top priority since coming to NYSCI three years ago – to develop more meaningful and lasting connections with our community,” she said. “And to encourage our neighbors to think of NYSCI as their resource, their science center, their collaborator. We also hope these programs are exciting to our members and a gateway into the museum for new visitors.”