By Julianne Mosher
These dragons won’t need any slaying and will not be spitting fire. In fact, this might actually bring some good luck.
The 9th annual Dragon Boat Race Festival is heading back to Port Jefferson on Saturday, Sept. 16 and it will have something for everyone.
Sponsored by The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, this event is a way to foster community togetherness. It also serves to promote Asian and Asian American culture and customs while connecting with students at Stony Brook University.
Kicking off with a race in the Long Island Sound, it coincides with a full festival filled with fun, food and friends.
Barbara Ransome, the chamber’s director of operations, said that every year this particular festival brings in hundreds of people from across Long Island and even New York City.
“There’s nothing else like this around,” she said, “And we’re the only festival doing this in Suffolk County.”
Just a few miles away from Stony Brook University, which has a large Asian and Pan-Asian community, Ransome said the festival not only brings new people to the village every year, but also parts of these cultures that local residents might have not seen before.
“Not only is this festival entertaining,” Ransome said, “But it’s also educational and that’s a wonderful thing.”
This year, 21 teams are signed up — including two from the university and a group from Flushing, Queens. Each boat has about 22 people in it as they race for the win.
But it isn’t just a race for visitors to watch and cheer on. There are dance troupes, Japanese percussionists, singers and martial artists, plus retailers, cultural vendors and food trucks.
And you can’t forget the Bearded Dragon who will dance for the crowd — but don’t worry… it isn’t scary.
For centuries, the bearded dragon has had a significant impact on different cultures around the world. Specifically in Eastern cultures, including Chinese mythology, the dragon symbolizes power, strength and good luck. Similarly, in Japan, bearded dragons are associated with longevity and wisdom, as they are said to possess secret knowledge.
Other fun activities for kids will include face painting, origami, crafts and reptile visitors from the Center for Environmental and Educational Discovery.
“This is a way to embrace diversity within our own backyard,” Ransome said. “It offers different things that you might have never seen before.”
The Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival will kick off its opening ceremonies on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8:30 a.m. with a performance by the Asian Veterans Color Guard, singing of the national anthem by Samantha Reichers, a Blessing of the Dragon and the traditional “Eye Dotting” ceremony to awaken the dragon at Port Jefferson Harbor and Harborfront Park, located at 101A East Broadway. The race will begin at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will run alongside the entertainment schedule (see left hand page).
The event will be held rain or shine. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come enjoy the festivities! For more information, call 631-473-1414 or visit www.portjeffdragonracefest.com
Schedule of Events:
Team Captains Meeting at Harborfront Park
Opening Ceremonies with Master of Ceremonies Suzanne Velazquez, Asian Veterans Color Guard, singing of the National Anthem by Samantha Reichers, and Blessing of the Dragon and ‘Eye Dotting’ ceremony with Theravada Monks from the Vajiradhammapadip Buddhist Temple in Centereach
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Food Vendors, Cultural Crafts, Children Activities, Retail/Educational/Nonprofit Vendor Tables
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Continual Dragon Boat Races in Port Jefferson’s Inner Harbor
Rebel Thaiboxing demonstration
10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m
The Sound of Long Island Chorus, Americana program and traditional Chinese songs
10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Yixin Dance Center
11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Long Island Chinese Dance Group performance
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Lunch Break (no racing)
12;30 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Taiko Tides Drumming and Oroshi Drumming contest
1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Parade of the Team T-shirts Contest, Best Drummer Costume Contest
1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu Lion Dance , Kung Fu & Tai Chi demonstrations
2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.
Port Jefferson High School Music Group, Harbor Country Day School
2:45 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Rebel Thaiboxing Demonstration
3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Stony Brook Youth Chorus
3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Yana Dance Group – Chinese Traditional Dance
4 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Galante Martial Arts demonstrating Tai Chi, Arnis (Filipino Martial Arts) and Jiu Jitsu
4:15 to 4:45 p.m.
Long Island Modeling
Last Dragon Boat Race
5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Closing Ceremonies and Awards