Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival Invites You

Boston, May 28, 2016, — Come celebrate the 37th Annual Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday, June 12, 2016, from 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Spectators will be able to watch brightly colored dragon boats, piloted by paddlers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, South Carolina and Toronto Canada, 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 (Hong Kong ETO), State Street, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Ocean Spray, South Cove Community Health Center, Eastern Bank and Boston Dragon Boat Festival Committee. Additional fund from Hong Kong ETO enabled the festival committee to acquire new racing equipment.

Located by John W. Weeks Foot Bridge on the Charles River between JFK Avenue and Western Avenue, this year’s festival will feature 64 teams competing in categories designated with special races and medals for the Colleges including Chinese University Alumni, Financial Institutions, Health Care, Women’s, Club, Community and Recreational, and Cancer Survivors Divisions. This year, out of State teams include those from Rhode Island, Texas, New York, and Ontario Canada.

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 dragonhead 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 traditional Chinese music ad dance by GBCCA, CCCC and Newton Chinese School Dance Troupe, Asian folk songs by Lili Feng, traditional Korean dance by Boston Korean Dance Group, Korean Tae Kwon-Do presentation by Tae Kwon-Do Institute, as well as returning favorites such as Dragon and Lion Dances and Chinese martial arts by Wahlum Kungfu, traditional India dances by Shaila School of Dance, traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by Odaiko New England, and more. One highlight of Asian cultural performances is Ms. Wangju Chen’s Chinese magic show at 4:15PM. Come also to enjoy hands-on activities and Chinese arts and crafts by GBCCA. New this year, the festival will have enriched programs. There will be free Taichi demonstrations and workshops by Yawen Taiji Program. There will also be a lion dance workshop and Chinese Zhuang ethnic dance “Board Shoe Dance”. Come also to sample various Asian foods featuring Chinese, Indian, Thai, and more lining the side of Memorial Drive.

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 in 1979, the first in North America. 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.

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