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Queens Chronicle

Colorful races set on Meadow Lake

Annual Dragon Boat Festival this weekend offers lots of entertainment

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Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 12:14 pm, Thu Aug 14, 2014.

The paddles will be flying this weekend at Meadow Lake during the 24th annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park on Saturday and Sunday.

More than 188 teams are expected to compete in the two-day event with participants from across the country and Canada. The city title will be determined on Saturday and the U.S. championship on Sunday with the awarding of cash and prizes.

The free festival will be held rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. On land, visitors will be able to cheer on their favorite teams as well as partake of Asian folk arts and crafts programs, watch multicultural entertainment and nibble on dumplings and corn on the cob.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair held at Flushing Meadows, there will be a municipal invitational race on Saturday featuring teams from the offices of Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Melinda Katz, Rep. Grace Meng and Assemblyman Ron Kim.

There will also be youth, women and sponsor races, a media challenge and a charity race with $7,500 to be donated to the charities designated by the winning teams.

The opening day ceremony and parade begin at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. Entertainment that day features the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York; Americana Tap Dance Foundation; CASYM Steel Orchestra and Shaolin masters performing martial arts.

Sunday’s acts include Tamika Lawrence and band; Rectifist and friends band; Wing Tsun martial arts performance; Rob Lok, a clown; Mawuena Kodjovi West African melodies and dances; and another performance by Shaolin masters.

The expanded food court will offer yakisoba noodles, egg and spring rolls, chicken and shish kabobs.

There will also be a tent with representatives from various nonprofit organizations offering information including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the Queens Botanical Garden, the Queens Library, New York Hospital Queens and many more.

The teak boats used in the competition are custom-made in Hong Kong and weigh a ton. They feature a colorful dragon head at the front and a tail at the rear. Each team has 18 paddlers, a drummer and a steerperson.

The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a respected Chinese leader who was disgraced in ancient times and committed suicide by drowning himself in a river. Nearby fishermen tried to save him but they failed. The races symbolize the rescue attempts.

Festival organizers suggest that visitors take public transportation to Flushing Meadows as there is no parking around the lake. Parking is available at Citi Field. A shuttle bus to the racing area will be available outside the subway station at Citi Field. Regular transit fees will be charged.

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