The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival came roaring back to Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Saturday for its 31st year.
More than 120 teams from across North America are taking part in this year's event, which marks the fifth moon — or fifth month — of the lunar calendar. Many of the teams are competing for a good cause.
What You Need To Know
- More than 120 teams from across North America are participating in the 2023 Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, which marks the fifth moon of the lunar calendar
- Each boat is custom made in Hong Kong, weighing one ton and carefully painted with a dragon head at the front and a tail at the rear
- Dragon boat racing is a longstanding tradition dating back 2,000 years
"That is the reason why I'm giving back to Elmhurst Hospital, because they saved my life," said Leah Salmorin, who's racing with the Paddle for the Cure dragon boat.
Each boat is custom made in Hong Kong, weighing one ton and carefully painted with a dragon head at the front and a tail at the rear. The boats are piloted by up to 20 crew members, including 18 paddlers.
"What I like about dragon boating, it's an ultimate team sport," said James Lozada, the coach of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center dragon boat. "When we paddle, we paddle together. It's not one person that really makes the boat go faster, it's everyone paddling together."
Mayor Eric Adams participated in the festival. His office raced against other elected leaders including the Queens borough president, public advocate and city comptroller.
"We had a few ringers on the comptroller's team and they had an early jump, but we had a good comeback," Adams said. "We're like the Mets and Yankees. We'll see them next year."
Dragon boat racing is a longstanding tradition dating back 2,000 years. While the annual festival is a celebration of Chinese culture, Adams says this event unites all New Yorkers around a common cause.
"It also allows us to lean into the various cultures in the city," the mayor said. "It's a good way of team work because if you rode together, you can study together, you can build together and that's the whole purpose."
The festival is a two-day event culminating Sunday evening with the U.S. Dragon Boat Open Championship Race.