The waters of Lake Carolyn were filled with dragons during the 11th Annual DFW Dragon Boat, Kite and Lantern Festival held in Las Colinas on Sunday, May 20.
Rainy weather did not keep the crowds away as people from all over Las Colinas came out to enjoy a very different kind of “day at the races,” courtesy of the Marco polo World Foundation. Diana Wang Madsen, founder and president of the foundation, said she first created Marco Polo to showcase her culture in a very-diverse city.
“This foundation started in 2007,” Madsen said. “I am from China, and I saw there were a lot of cultures here. There are a lot different people here. I thought we should be showing our culture, so it could create a better understanding. We need to better understand the cultures, and we can create a good relationship, and there can be peace. I want that for everyone.”
Many facets of Asian culture were on display at this year’s festival. Lion dancers and Asian costumes paraded through the streets while traditional performers from India, China and other countries entertained the crowds with song and dance. In the field next to the lake, hundreds of kites took flight while some attendees learned how to create kites of their own. Kathy Wong enjoyed seeing the different cultures on display.
“This is my first time here,” Wong said. “I think it’s very good, because they show a lot of performers from lots of different cultures, and I’ve really enjoyed it. They have a lot to offer.”
The most exciting the event of the day may be the Dragon Boat races, in which teams of 20 compete in rowing 40-foot long Dragon Boats across a 250-meter course on the lake. This year’s festival brought over 50 different teams from city organizations like the Irving Fire Department and Sheriff’s office, to local businesses and non-profits, all competing against one another to see whose Dragon Boat was the fastest. Madsen said the Dragon Boat races are more than sport, they are also a fun and fantastic way to foster teamwork and demonstrate a nearly 2,000-year-old cultural activity.
“We started the Dragon Boat racing club to teach people the culture,” Madsen said. “You might think of it as just a sport, but it does have meaning. It is all about teamwork. They listen to the captain and listen to the beat, then together they can solve the problem. I think it is very important.”
But not every race went smoothly. During one of the later matches, one of the boats managed to tip over, dumping all 22 of its occupants into Lake Carolyn. While some rowers managed to make it back onto the overturned boat, many were left floating in the lake for quite some time. Jason Lee from Chase Bank saw the boat go down and said, thankfully, no one was hurt and in spite of the mishap, everyone was still having a great time.
“When they got out of the water they were screaming, ‘At least we got wet,’” Lee said. “They were happy.”
In the end, the Dragon Boat Festival is not just about competition, but community. Madsen said regardless of where they are from, everyone can come out and enjoy learning about a new culture.
“It is all about bringing people together,” Madsen said. “It doesn’t matter what country you are from, we are here together as one family.”
You can view photos from the event below:
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Photos by John Starkey