You can see just about every kind of festival in New York City. My home at the northern end of Manhattan is rarely more than an hour and a half by subway from every locale in the five boroughs. Since I’m heat exhaustion prone and sun sensitive I don’t venture out too much in the summer. This past weekend was an exception. We went to New York’s “Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival” in Flushing Meadows, Queens, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, August 9th.
I had only ever been to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park as a small girl, to attend the 1964 World’s Fair, but knew its location because of the famous Unisphere globe which is still standing (and visible from the highway), and of course, Citi Field, the contemporary home of the New York Mets. I was anxious to see even a small portion of it and enjoy what New Yorkers seem to enjoy: crowds.
Dragon Boat Festivals, originating in China, have reportedly been around for over 2,000 years. Dragon boat racing comprises a portion of the festivities. The fair this past weekend sported a splendid number of people enjoying the day, strolling amongst the tents, eating, and watching the races on the lake. Team sponsorship advertisements and race sponsors abounded including banks, health care providers, travel agencies, Chinese media, and insurers to name a few. Oars and paddles festooned the team tents as similarly-clad team members wandered around on their business in colorful packs.
I thought all the racing team participants would be Chinese, or at least Asian, but there were male and female athletes of a wide variety of ethnicities. Most, however, seemed to be on the youthful side. I can understand why: it is keen physical work! Ten paired oarsmen (oarspeople?) rowed to the accompaniment of a drummer who sat in the prow, facing the rowers, keeping time. Another person stood in the stern with a long oar (for stabilization?). It was difficult to examine the boats from my vantage point, but they appeared to be the same model, with a dragon’s head as a figurehead, and different paint combinations. It was lovely to watch, but the races themselves were very short in duration.
I looked for freebies hoping to snag an umbrella to ward off the hot sun and obtained some Kozy Shack rice pudding (Kof-K kosher) samples instead. I count that as success, too! Next time I’ll bring a camp chair and umbrella to further enjoy the sights and smells of a friendly summer festival.