Dragon Boat Festival

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A drummer at the bow of a participating dragon boat. © Carly Larsson 2014 

In August I met up with NYC Urban Sketchers to draw the Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The Dragon Boat Festival is an annual event which originated in China. The festival is based off a legend about the poet Qu Yuan who was a court minister & advocate for reform in his home of Chu. He was disliked by the emperor for his outspoken ways and was banished. During his exile, after hearing that his home was invaded, he jumped into the Ni Lo River and drowned himself. Local fishermen tried to save him but were unsuccessful. To prevent his body from being eaten by fish and as an offering to his spirit,  they threw rice dumplings into the water. Today rice dumplings are traditionally eaten on the day of the Dragon Boat Festival which is held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. After the races, it is customary to spend the remainder of the day observing street theatre, martial arts, Chinese dance performances, and other cultural festivities (all while eating rice dumplings, of course).

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

Dragon boats racing while spectators look on. © Carly Larsson 2014.

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

A giant dragon costume worn by about 20 people winds by during the parade. © Carly Larsson 2014 

Drawing this event was certainly a challenge, as it was about 95 degrees and there was nary an ounce of shade. Regardless, it was a great experience and I'm glad I went. 

The Boston Common Frog Pond & Carousel

Here are a few more drawings from my recent trip to Boston following the Charles W. Morgan on her 38th Voyage (more on that to come). This is the Frog Pond on the Boston Common, where in the summer children splash and play, and adults wade or relax in the shade on benches surrounding the pond. In the wintertime the pond is frozen for ice skating - I would love to go back and draw it then (though it might be a challenge with the cold!) 

The Frog Pond on the Boston Common. © Carly Larsson 2014

The Boston Common is located at the foot of Beacon Hill, at the southern end of the Freedom Trail. It was originally owned by William Blaxton, the first European settler of modern-day Boston and Rhode Island. He later sold it to the Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and beginning in the 1630s it served as a cow pasture for local families. On a more austere note, the Common was also used as a location for public hangings up until 1817. In 1775 at the start of the American Revolution, the Common was used as a camp by the British, and it was from here that British troops departed for the battles of Lexington and Concord. In 1830, cows were banned from the Common and it became the world's first public park. 

The Boston Common Carousel © Carly Larsson 2014

The Boston Common Carousel © Carly Larsson 2014

Adjacent to the Frog Pond is the Boston Common Carousel. The carousel was built in 1947 by the Allan Herschell Company of North Tonawanda, NY. The carousel features handcarved horses, as well as a zebra, dragon, rabbit, frog, cat, rooster, teacup and other less-traditional creatures.

Boston Common Carousel 3.jpg
The Boston Common Carousel © Carly Larsson 2014

It was a lot of fun to watch and draw the kids pick out their animal, then beg their families to go on again. Some would test out multiple animals, but others had a favorite that they stuck to. I think this little boy rode the dragon three times in a row. Watching the families enjoy the park and each other's company, I couldn't help but recall fond memories of my grandfather taking my sister Elise and me to the Holyoke, MA Merry-Go-Round at Heritage State Park.