The 23rd annual Hongkong Dragon Boat Festival took place over the weekend at Flushing-Corona Meadows Park in Queens. The two-day event attracted thousands of spectators and participants. Nearly 200 teams competed with 2,500 participants at Meadow Lake. Dragon boating is a boat of several paddlers, a drummer and a steers person paddling to cross the finish line faster than their competition.
According to the event's official website, dragon boat racing is based on a legend of the ancient patriot-poet Qu Yuan who lived from 340-278 BC. He was a Court Minister who advocated reforms for his home state of Chu. The King of Chu, however, disliked him for it and banished him from the state. In exile, he wandered the country writing poetry expressing his concerns for his homeland and its people. In 278 BC when Qu Yuan heard that his home had been invaded, he jumped into the Ni Lo River and drowned himself. Legend has it that local fishermen raced out to the river to save him, but couldn't. To prevent his body from being eaten by the fish, they threw rice dumplings into the water as an offering to his heroic spirit. This was the beginning of Dragon Boat Racing. Today, rice dumplings are eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival, which is commemorated each year on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.