The 27th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Race. Photo by Bruce Adler
BY RYAN QUINN
Flushing drew large crowds last weekend as the neighborhood celebrated the 27th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Race festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
A total of 93 races involving 212 teams took place at the park on Saturday and Sunday.
The dragon boat race—a Chinese cultural touchstone—dates back to the third century BCE, when it commemorated the death of the poet Qu Yuan.
During the Flushing event, participants lined the shore in the park, congregated in tents and barbecued in between races.
Aside from the dragon boat races, the festival featured vendors, corporate giveaways and traditional entertainers for spectators. A stage set up in the park featured a variety of entertainment, including dancers, music and other traditional arts.
The race featured numerous corporate racing teams, as well as teams from various city government agencies and the city’s Police and Fire departments.
Wei Zhang, who has participated in the race for six years, described it as an enjoyable way to get out of the office. The captain of the UPS team, Tham Wynn, said that any workplace hierarchy is nonexistent once dragon boats are involved.
Wynn said that another benefit for the co-workers on the team is participating in the spirit of “cultural diversity.” He added that the event and training leading up to it was an educational experience. Additionally, the nature of the sport “increases teamwork and makes them more comfortable with each other,” he said.
David Archer, the marketing director for the event, said he agreed that teamwork, culture and community are “definitely the keys” for the dragon boat races, but added that each year, more money is required to combat rising costs and to provide quality staff.
Overall, Archer was pleased with the turnout for the festival.
“[There’s] always room for improvement, but yes, [it was] successful from our point of view,” he said. “[It] went off well, no major issues, happy sponsors, large audience, good weather, good press coverage, happy competitors, good media support, good support from Parks, Police, FDNY, MTA, local government.”