Thursday, June 5, 2008

WEEKEND PICK: Dragon Boat Festival Sunday

Come celebrate the 29th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival on Sunday, June 8, from noon to 5 p.m.
Spectators will be able to watch brightly colored dragon boats, piloted by rowers from Greater Boston, New York, and as far away as Canada, as they race down the Charles River between JFK Street and the Western Avenue Bridge.
The festival is sponsored in part by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, United Commercial Bank, Mohegan Sun, State Street, Boston Children’s Museum, and more, and the Boston Dragon Boat Festival Committee.
This year’s festival, which is the largest Asian American celebration in New England, will include more than 30 teams competing in four categories: open, mixed, corporate and women’s. A special heat will be devoted to breast cancer survivors.
It will also feature traditional Chinese arts and crafts by the Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association; a Dragon and Lion Dance; martial arts; authentic Hula and Tahitian Dance; Korean Poongmul drumming; Chinese dance and music; traditional Japanese festival drumming and Asian foods.
The festival, is free and open to the public, will be held rain or shine.
The 29th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is part of Boston China Summer, a collaboration of civic, cultural, and educational organizations working together to highlight Chinese and Chinese American art and culture throughout the Greater Boston area. For more information, visit
The Legend of the Dragon Boat Races 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 the Qu Yuan (340-278 BCE). A political leader 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, check out the Festival website at

About Boston Children’s Museum: Boston Children’s Museum exists to help children understand and enjoy the world in which they live. It is a private, non-profit, educational institution that is recognized internationally as a research and development center and pacesetter for children's exhibitions, educational programs and curriculum. Boston Children’s Museum incorporates two strategies - engaging families and building communities - to impact five outcome areas for children: Creative Kids, Curious Kids, Global Kids, Green Kids and Healthy Kids. More information about Boston Children’s Museum can be found at <>.

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