The Atlanta Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival will return to Lake Lanier Olympic Park on Saturday with multicultural fun for the whole family.
Tracy Barth, director of the festival, told AccessWDUN that 2023 marks the 26th year for the festival. It initially started at Stone Mountain Park in 1995 and moved to Lake Lanier Olympic Park in 1998.
"It feels great to be back," Barth said. "It feels really good to have an increased level of participation from all of the community and corporate teams. We realized that starting back after COVID there was going to be a little bit of a lag but this year has shown us that everyone is back."
The 2023 festival has 64 teams competing in 10 different divisions, including three breast cancer survivor teams.
Barth said this year is particularly special, as the event will incorporate the flower ceremony into its opening ceremony, which will be held Saturday at noon.
"The three breast cancer survivor teams that we have, they all paddle out onto the water at the same time and they play music and also give a message to the audience," Barth said. "It's to celebrate breast cancer survivors and to remember those who have passed before us, and really a celebration of life ... they will have pink carnations that they will toss into the water."
On a personal note, Barth said she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment throughout the summer.
"This is going to be a celebration for me, continuing this leg of the journey, and to be surrounded by all of the members of the paddling community that I have formed so many relationships with to have them help me celebrate this, and to celebrate them," Barth said.
The event is free and open to the public, even for those who are not participating in a dragon boat race.
"We will have Buddhist monks blessing the boats at 7:10 a.m. followed by the raising of the colors - the Laotian Honor Guard is going to be doing that for us," Barth said. "We will also have lion dances, and cultural presentations, and we will also have a nice array of food trucks."
Dragon Boat originates from Asian culture, with each boat carrying 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steersman.
More information about the event is available here.