The 14th Annual Chicago Dragon Boat Race for Literacy took place last Saturday, June 28 at Ping Tom Memorial Park in Chinatown. One of Cirque Shanghai’s favorite events to participate in, the annual day of festivities includes children’s activities, special appearances and performances, vendor booths, food trucks, and the exciting dragon boat races.
Though celebrated with lively races, the Dragon Boat Festival originated from a rather tragic event over 2,000 years ago. During China’s Warring States Period, Qu Yuan, a minister in the state of Chu was banished for protesting against the state’s corrupt rulers. After writing a series of (now famous) Chinese poems, Qu committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.
Admired by the community, people raced out in their long, swift boats, beating their drums and splashing their oars to scare the many fish away from his body. They also threw rice dumplings (zongzi) into the river in attempt to keep the fish from feeding on Qu’s soul. The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. At traditional celebrations today, the historic event is commemorated by preparing and eating zongzi and hosting dragon boat races, often held on a separate date than the observed holiday.
As done in previous years, some of the Cirque Shanghai troupe came out to perform bits of Rolla Bolla, Strongmen and Comedy Bowl Kicker at this year’s Dragon Boat Race.
Want to see these performers in action for yourself? Get more information about Cirque Shanghai Warriors performing now through September 1 at Navy Pier in the Pepsi Skyline Stage this summer.