Atlanta’s ninth Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival will be held at Lake Lanier on Saturday, Sept. 11, with eight new boats that were made in China as part of a global event that began in 1976 and is spreading in popularity around the world.

Gene Hanratty, senior consultant with the Hong Kong Information Center in Atlanta, told GlobalAtlanta last week that it still is not too late for teams to sign up to participate in what has become a multicultural event.

For the past three years, the festival has been held at the 1996 Olympic site for rowing and paddling events and teams compete on a 500-meter course in fiberglass boats. Each boat has a colorful dragon’s head at its prow and tail at its stern and is powered by 18 rowers. A coxswain and a drummer also are members of the crew.

The teams are divided into categories such as collegiate and high school teams, teams for men and women and only women, law firms, breast cancer survivors, recreational rowers and restaurants.

Mr. Hanratty, who first organized the race here, said that he currently has more than 20 teams participating and that new categories can be developed as long as there are enough participants for two boats.

“We encourage people who want to establish new categories and will have trophies for them. It’s never too late to enter. With one practice, you are good to go,” he added.

Since the festival was first started internationally it is one of Hong Kong’s most popular events drawing thousands of spectators and racing teams from across the globe.

Clubs and associations supporting the event have developed in Asia, Europe and North America. On the east coast of the United States, the Atlanta event is part of a series of races taking place in other cities including Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Washington.

The winners of these local races can compete in New York in August 2005. The winner of that race then is able to compete in the annual race in Hong Kong, which dates back some 2,000 years and has its origins in an ancient Chinese legend.

The Lake Lanier event also will feature a number of cultural events presented by members of Atlanta’s Chinese communities. To learn more about the festival, go to

Mr. Hanratty may be reached at (404) 238-0875 or send an e-mail to