The Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival returns to celebrate its 25th year after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
The event will be on Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Lanier Olympic Park on Clarks Bridge Rd. Registration will begin at 6 a.m. and the first race will begin at 8:30 a.m.
“I'm pretty excited as we hadn't had it for a couple of years. We got a pretty good turnout this year, with about 60 teams,” Andrew Surles, the head of Sprint, Masters and Dragon Boat at the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club said.
According to Tracy Barth, the Festival Director for the Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, this event will touch on every sense of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“You can hear, see, feel, smell and taste everything Asian at this event from the Buddhist monks blessing the boats first thing in the morning to the opening ceremony at noon that has a full array of Asian entertainment,” she said.
There will be multiple food trucks, most of which will be authentic Asian cuisine. Barth said that everyone is welcome. This is a time to celebrate a culture that was the focus of hate crimes during the pandemic.
“We want to let everybody know that our community stands united against racism. And as such we are going to host a raffle,” she said.
The raffle is for two accommodations in Antigua, according to Barth. All the proceeds raised will be donated to the Asian American Advancing Justice in Atlanta, the first nonprofit legal advocacy organization that is solely dedicated to protecting the civil rights of Asian Americans.
Surles said that the event has a way of bringing communities together.
“Many of the teams here are corporate teams. They are here to fundraise for the event and team building for their company. So it's pretty exciting to see how these teams and their companies work together,” he said.
The teams will compete in large canoe-like vessels fitted with dragon heads and tails carved at the front and back. Crews of up to 16 people sit in pairs and paddle and each boat will have a drummer beating time to keep the paddlers in unison.