By APB Staff Writer

July 2017 – Times Square, New York City: On the twentieth anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China – the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival “sailed” into Times Square to preview its 27th annual race, which takes place this August.

Crowds gathered in Duffy Square to witness the display of ornate, custom made teak boats, which feature dragon heads and tails. The boats will be piloted by up to twenty crew members each when the competition commences on Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows, Corona Park, Queens. Organizers expect a record number of 214 boat teams this year.

Shaolin Monks performed the ritual blessing of the boats as onlookers took photos and shared images on social media. NYPD officers were on alert, however the event proceeded calmly and without incident.

The ancient tradition of Chinese Dragon Boat racing dates back to 278 BC. The modern day Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival has emerged as a local multi-cultural event in New York City, featuring numerous arts and crafts exhibitions, international foods, and dance and musical performances.

The New York City Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival, which is the oldest, largest, and most traditional dragon boat festival in the United States, is scheduled rain or shine for the weekend of August 12 and 13 and is free to the public.