Tag Archives: Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival

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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Silver anniversary for Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival at Flushing Meadows


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

BY BROOKE RUTMAN

The 25th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival returns to Meadow Lake at Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Aug. 8 and 9.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival (HKDBF-NY) is the biggest multicultural festival in New York and the largest of its kind in the U.S. The HKDBF-NY uses the tradition of dragon boat racing. Teak boats are custom-made by craftsman in Hong Kong, which are piloted by 20 crewman. For 24 years, the HKDBF-NY has attracted a multicultural audience throughout North America of more than 50,000 attendees.

This year’s 25th anniversary festival is expected to draw fierce competition with more than 2,500 participants competing. The festival takes place on the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, with an opening day parade at noon on Aug. 8.

Racing begins at 9 a.m. and events will last until approximately 5 p.m. on both days. Various events for the whole family are held during the U.S. Dragon Boat Open Championships, including a photo contest, the traditional dragon dance, music and other diverse performances, and demonstrations of arts and crafts.

Six new 10-person boats from China and several Special/Invitational Cup races are planned for this year’s races. The races include the 25th Anniversary Invitational, the HSBC 150th Invitational, and the Municipal Invitational race with teams from elected officials.

Many officials were invited to field a team, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Rep. Grace Meng and Assemblyman Ron Kim, as well as NYC government agencies. Teams are expected to race for their companies in the Corporate Invitational.

“The board and I are very proud and excited to have been a part of the growth of the festival from ten boats on the Hudson 25 years ago when the festival began, to commemorate the opening of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, to this year’s festival with over 200 teams participating in celebration of the 25th anniversary. HKDBF-NY has become one of the largest international dragon boat festivals in the world and a much-anticipated event on NYC’s summer calendar,” said Henry Wan, chairman of the HKDBF-NY board.

The tradition of dragon boat racing is an annual Chinese rite commemorating the idealistic poet Quan Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against his emperor’s policies. Locals raced in their boats in an effort to rescue the poet. The locals splashed their paddles and beat their drums to prevent his body from being eaten, which led to the beginning of dragon boat racing.

Parking is very limited, so attendees are urged to use public transportation. Attendees can take the 7 train to the Mets-Willets Point stop, and transfer from there to special MTA shuttle buses that will take them directly to the festival site.

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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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Dragon boats give back


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

HKDBF - NY

As this year’s participants of The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York (HKDBF-NY) will receive thousands of dollars for the charities of their choice, the city begins to prepare for next year’s boat race.

On behalf of the HKDBF-NY 2013 Charity Boat Race, which took place on August 11,  participants’ $7,500 will be awarded to the charities of their choice. This year’s race included teams from HSBC Bank USA, DCH Auto Group and Shanghai Commercial Bank LTD. Each company contributed $2,500.

DCH Auto Group, this year’s Charity Boat Race winner, receives $3,500, half of the funds raised, and will donate the money to the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. Runner-up HSBC Bank receives $2,000 for the Chinatown YMCA, and second runner-up Shanghai Commercial Bank gets $2,000 for the Museum of Chinese in America.

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in New York is an annual sporting event and largest multi-cultural celebration in New York which takes place over two days in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. It is also the biggest festival of its kind in the country.

This year’s race attracted 188 teams to participate, the largest number of teams in the past 23 years, with 2,500 participants competing.

The tentative dates for the 2014 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival will be an opening day parade on Saturday, August 9 and the U.S. Dragon Boat Open Championship Race on Sunday, August 10.

 

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