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Goin' with the flow

By Julia Pierrepont III in Long Beach, California | China Daily | Updated: 2018-08-04 10:48
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Californian festival breathing new life into China's ancient rowing tradition

"Win, win, win!" squealed a handful of athletes cheering on a phalanx of sleek vessels as they sliced effortlessly toward the finish line at the 2018 Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival last weekend.

A couple of thousand spectators turned out on the Saturday and Sunday for the event as dozens of teams from all over the US and Canada battled for prizes and bragging rights.


Dozens of teams from all over the US and Canada battle for prizes and bragging rights at the annual Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival in California. Xinhua

For the past 20 years, the festival has been one of the leading cultural sporting events on the west coast of the United States.

"If not for the Dragon Boat Festival, all these people here today wouldn't be visiting the fine city of Long Beach," said Dr. Howard Chen, the president of the International Cultural Exchange Association and co-founder and promoter of the races.

Dragon boat racing's original Duan Wu festival began over 2,000 years ago as a memorial to Qu Yuan, a loyal and highly respected poet who sacrificed his life to protest corruption in the Chinese court of Chu (present-day Hunan and Hubei provinces) during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Unlike the evil or demonic creatures in European mythology, Asian dragons are traditionally believed to bring good fortune and prosperity.

As the sport expands beyond its Chinese roots, dragon boat races are popping up all over the US, Europe and Asia.

The Long Beach event featured hundreds of participants from a wide variety of races and cultures.

"This event is a celebration of diverse backgrounds and multicultural heritage that fosters camaraderie and good sportsmanship," Dr. Chen told Xinhua.

"It's fantastic!" said Maria, a competitor from Los Angeles. "I was not that into sports before but this is just so much fun and you can do it with your friends."

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