The 28th Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival faced heavy rains and thunder last weekend, but that did not stop an estimated 50,000 attendees from going to the two-day multicultural sporting event and waiting out the showers to see the races at Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
There were over 200 teams and more than 2,500 participants in this year’s races last weekend, competing in custom-made teak boats sporting dragon heads.
Leading one of the NYPD teams that raced during the festival was Brittany Hawkrigg, a police officer from Manhattan.
“We are all from different precincts from all five boroughs,” said Hawkrigg. “We were racing in the names of our fallen officers who have given the ultimate sacrifice, so all of our boats were raced in their name.”
One of the NYPD boats was dedicated to slain Officers Wenjian Liu of Brooklyn and Rafael Ramos of Glendale, who were murdered in 2014 as they sat in their patrol car on a Brookyn street.
On the dragon boat Hawkrigg served as a pacer.
“Myself and the other person on the front of the boat set the pace for the entire race,” said Hawkrigg. “If we start out fast, the rest of the team has to follow and so forth.”
Hawkrigg’s team of 12, which also included a drummer and a stirrer, started practicing in February to get ready for the race.
Another team at the race was Flushing Bank.
Mike Bingold served as an engine for the bank’s team.
“The engine are the strong people in the middle of the boat,” said Bingold.
Judy Ang, who learned to drum two years ago served as the team’s drummer.
“I’ve been participating in the dragon boat race for 20 years,” said Ang. “I like that we are coming together and working together like we do at the branch.”
One of the newest attendees was Susanna Collerd, who moved to Kew Gardens from Chicago over three years ago. She came to the event for the first time with her sons Calixto, 5 and Fausto, 2.
“We are having a good time,” said Collerd.
Calixto, who played with the rocks and splashed his feet in the water, was happy to just be near Meadow Lake.
“I like the water,” said Calixto.
Fausto was more interested in playing in the mud as his mom ate arepas, a Colombian cuisine.
Another transplant to Queens enjoying her first time at the festival was Woodside resident Jane Zhu, originally from Beijing.
“It’s very interesting and I got so many gifts,” she said showing off a dragon toy she got for her daughter Judy, 6.
At the event Judy also learned how to make a paper boat.
“I love the toy,” said Judy.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose
©2018 Community News Group