Boston Celebrates 35th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on June 15

Boston, June 2, 2014, –Today is the Duanwu Festival Day, also known as Dragon Boat Festival. The festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional lunar calendar to honor ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan. Boston is the host of one of the longest running Dragon Boat Festival celebrations in North America.
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Come celebrate the 35th Annual Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday, June 15, 2014, from 12:00 p.m. – 5 p.m. Spectators will be able to watch brightly colored dragon boats, piloted by paddlers from Greater Boston, Rhode Island, New York and New Hampshire as they race down the Charles River from Western Avenue Bridge. The festival is sponsored in part by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, State Street, Harvard Pilgrims Health Care and Boston Dragon Boat Festival Committee.

Located by John W. Weeks Foot Bridge on the Charles River between JFK Avenue and Western Avenue, this year’s festival will feature sixty-two teams competing in categories designated with special races and medals for the Colleges, High Schools, Financial Institutions, Health Care, Women’s, Club and Cancer Survivors Divisions.

While races start in the morning, cultural programs will begin at 12 Noon. All programs are free and family friendly for visitors. Sponsors, founders and committee members will paint the eyes of the dragon head on each boat at the dock on Boston side. This is an ancient Chinese ceremony that is believed to enable the dragon to soar with the utmost power. The Eye-dotting Ceremony will take  place in the accompaniment of traditional Chinese drumming along both banks of the Charles by drummers from Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association (GBCCA) and Cambridge Center for Chinese Culture (CCCC).

The Opening Ceremony will be followed by cultural programs and performances. They include a Cambodian dance by the Angkor Dance Troupe and Chinese Bianlian, or Face Mask Changing, as well as returning favorites such as a Dragon and Lion Dance and Chinese martial arts by Wahlum Kungfu, traditional Indian dances by Shaila School of Dance, traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by Odaiko New England, and more. Come also to enjoy hands-on activities and Chinese arts and crafts by Greater Boston Cultural Association and Asian foods featuring Chinese, Indian, Thai, Middle-Eastern and more lining the side of Memorial Drive.

One special program to highlight at this year’s festival is Hong Kong Celebrates Massachusetts by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, our festival’s naming sponsor. This year, Hong Kong ETO is focused on Massachusetts in its promotion of the relation between Hong Kong and the U.S. The close tie between the two is enhanced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s historic visit to Hong Kong in December 2013. In June this year, Hong Kong ETO will be holding and supporting a series of festive events that will showcase the growing business and cultural ties between Hong Kong and Massachusetts, from films, ballet, music to dragon boat races in Boston, Cambridge and Becket. For more information, please visit www.HKcelebratesMA.com.

Traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth moon on the lunar calendar (late May to mid June on the solar calendar), the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan (340-278 BCE). A political leader of State of Chu, Qu Yuan is recognized as China’s first distinguished poet. Qu Yuan lost the king’s

favor and was banished from his home state of Chu because of his opposition to the prevalent policy of compromise to the powerful state of Qin. In exile, he wrote the poem, “Encountering Sorrow,” which shows a great loyalty to his state and its people. In 278 BCE, Qu Yuan heard that Chu had been invaded. In despair, he drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. The people of Chu rushed to the river to rescue him. Too late to save Qu Yuan, they splashed furiously and threw zong-zi (traditional rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) into the river as a sacrifice to his spirit and to keep the fish away from his body.

Today, Dragon Boat Festivals are popular around the world. The first Dragon Boat Festival in the United States was held in Boston. The Boston festival is used as a vehicle to promote Asian culture and a chance to bring together diverse communities from Boston and surrounding areas. In previous years, more than 20,000 people lined the banks of the Charles to enjoy the festivities and performances.

For more information on Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, please go to our website: www.bostondragonboat.org
For PR and other festival inquiries please contact: Gail Wang, 617-259-0286,
festival@bostondragonboat,org
pr@bostondragonboat.org.

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