Tag Archives: dragons

New boats for Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival unveiled in Flushing


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

New boats for the 25th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival scheduled for next month at Flushing Meadows Corona Park were unveiled Thursday morning with an awakening ceremony of ritual blessing before the big races.

According to organizers, the Dragon Boat Festival is the largest multicultural event of its kind in New York, drawing over 15,000 people last year.

At Thursday’s event, a demonstration by Shaolin martial artists began the kickoff of the pre-race festivities, and then officials, event organizers and sponsors were guided by a Buddhist monk in blessing the boat with incense and dotting the eyes of the carved dragons with red paint.

Organizer Henry Wan highlighted the variety of offerings to be enjoyed at the festival, including a land performance, stage performance, martial arts, multicultural song and dance, as well as souvenir giveaways from local and corporate sponsors.

“It’s an event for the whole family, and it’s free, so come and visit us,” Wan said.

The two-day racing festival has grown considerably since its 1991 debut, which commemorated the New York arrival of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, from 10 boats in the first year to over 200 in 2015. Racers are competing to win cash and prizes, and to encourage past participants to be a part of the event this year. A “senior” discount will also be available for those over the age of 40.

The Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual rite to honor Qu Yuan, a outspoken poet who drowned himself in third century B.C. to protest against the policies of the emperor in his home state. According to the legend of Qu Yuan, the local fishermen raced out to the river to save the poet, but were unsuccessful. During their frantic dash they beat drums and splashed their paddles to prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body, a move which is echoed by drums still used in today’s races.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that the event was a chance to welcome an international crowd and show off the cultural offerings of Queens. She was involved in the event’s first year while working in the office of former Borough President Claire Shulman.

“It is exactly what Queens is about: having an international event where folks are coming from all over the world,” Katz said. “But really, the greatest participants are those that live right here, that have chosen to make Queens their home.”

Suzanne Brienza, an area manager of HSBC Bank who will be rowing as part of its team, the Red Dragons, said that her company has been practicing every week since April in anticipation of the competition. The bank has been an active part of the race as one of its original sponsors, and Brienza felt confident of their ability to win.

“It all depends on being in sync, and then the speed,” Brienza said.

This year’s festival will take place on the weekend of Aug. 8 and 9 at Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Races will begin at 9 a.m. and the festivities will last on both days until 5 p.m.

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Dragons mark Lunar New Year in Flushing


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Dragons were spotted in Flushing on Thursday.

Thumping drums accompanied the quick pace of commuters and shoppers in downtown Flushing. Two dragons walked into a T-Mobile store on Roosevelt Avenue with a traveling band following close behind. It was the first day of Lunar New Year.

To mark the holiday that is celebrated by many Asian communities, a kung fu and dance club ran through the streets of Flushing’s Chinatown with dragon costumes, cymbals and drums. The Hung Sing Kwoon group celebrates the holiday every year by holding a small parade on the first day of Lunar New Year.

“We’re celebrating the new year by parading around Flushing stores,” said Adam Chin, who has been with the group for seven years.

The group usually barges into stores and parades through the streets for the majority of the day.

“We’ll keep it up even in this cold,” Chin said as the wind picked up. “We feel it’s our duty to help spread joy on this day. That’s why we go into stores too. People really like that.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng read to a group of students for Lunar New Year. The lawmakers were at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, where many of the children were wearing traditional red clothes for the holiday.

“The Lunar New Year is an important time,” Gillibrand said. “It’s a chance to think about new goals, and I wish everyone happiness, success and good fortune.

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NYC musician to perform, celebrate roots at Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the Rectifist

BENJAMIN FANG

For Rectifist vocalist Marcus Lui, performing at the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is extra special.

Lui, a New York City resident but a Hong Kong native, is thrilled to be celebrating the Hong Kong tradition. His local band Rectifist, formed in June 2012, will take the stage Aug. 10 at 12:45 p.m.

“For me, I feel great because I was born in Hong Kong. I came from there,” Lui said. “Now, there is a chance for me to perform at a festival about Hong Kong.”

Lui, who used to work for the Cantonese radio station AM 1480, said he has been to the Dragon Boat Festival almost every year. This will be the first time he’s playing the music.

Usually a hard rock and metal band, Rectifist will be paying tribute to the disbanded Hong Kong rock band Beyond by playing cover songs in its upcoming performance.

“Beyond is one of the very important bands from Hong Kong,” Lui said. He said their songs talked about the world, race and other societal issues.

Rectifist currently has five band members: Steve Cheng and Sylivan Tam on the guitars, Chun Yeung Au with the bass, Jeff on the drums and Lui, also known as Spark, as the vocalist. All were involved in a prior band named X-Scale before forming Rectifist. The band is influenced by the underground rock and grunge music scene.

Rectifist, which Lui said usually plays in local city venues with two to three hundred people-audiences, will play in front of a much larger crowd in this year’s Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

 

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