Hong Kong Association Dragon Boat Race and Festival
September 8, 2007 | Olympic Venue, Clark’s Bridge, Lake Lanier
It was another fun all day event at the boat race. I remember some of the past ones being rather tame, and to be honest, in the last few years, the increased Laotian participation has made it quite festive, with the banging of gongs and drums and the cheering that you’d see on the banks of the Mekong river back home. I haven’t experienced that first hand, but I can say that Lao people here in America try, and we do ahem, put the “Lao” in “Loud.” 😉
The day started bright and early at the lake. Shortly after sunrise, monks from one of the Atlanta temples blessed the boats as well as some of us on the dock. The Dragon Boat Race is not a Laotian only event, it’s a community event for everyone from the nonprofit sector, to corporate, to the high school and college level. This year though, with the entrance of 5 Laotian teams it seemed like it was once again a chance to show Laotian culture and spirit.
The Laotian diaspora has different communities in pockets across America, each with its own vibe and sense of community. Atlanta, or Georgia rather, is imho its own little entity. Growing up in the South we have our own quirks, but this dragon boat race hopefully showed everyone that unity and friendly sportsmanship could be had among 3 temples and 2 organizations. Those 5 Lao teams had members that were interchangeable. I probably know at least 5 people on each team so the daisy chain of Lao people goes on and on quite easily. The Laotian teams were:
Wat Lao Buddhakhanti (Stone Mountain, GA) Drunken Dragons/Dragon Riders
Wat Lao Buddhaphothisaram (Conley, GA)
Wat Lao Habersham (Cornelia, GA)
Carrier Mekong Yanaak (Athens, GA)
Laotian American Society Naga Fireballs
(Believe me it was HOT)
In addition to the races, there was also the usual lion dancing and performances ranging from Chinese to Georgia Dance Academy Indian Dance, to our LAS Natasinh Dance school for kids.
(After the race I realized my skills are better on the shore taking pictures…)
All in all, I had a great time. Practiced almost every Sunday for a month and got to row (at the expense of costing the team a slower time), had good food and drinks with friends, and got to see some people I really care about (…little buddy…). Although it was waaay too hot to be September, my T-shirt design didn’t win anything 🙁 and I’m officially 2 shades darker (yes Asians can tan), I think this is something the Lao community can further build upon. Oh yeah, how could I forget? 4 Lao teams, including ours, placed in the top 8 out of 40+ teams. See you on the lake…