Dragon Festival breathes new life into Edmonton's Chinatown

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Edmonton’s Chinatown is set to unleash the dragon at its inaugural Dragon Festival next weekend.

The Chinatown Transformation Collaboration (CTC) Society of Edmonton is hosting the festival from June 8 to July 1, bringing people together to celebrate the year of the dragon.

“Chinatown does not belong to just Chinese people. It belongs to all Edmontonians,” said Joanna Wong with the CTC.

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“It’s a very important part of our culture and history here in Edmonton, and we need to preserve that and build the fabric of the communities.”

The festival will include a weekend of events beginning on Saturday, June 8, letting dragons loose at the parade on 97 Street at 11 a.m. The CTC even requests that attendees dress as dragons or dinosaurs for the event.

A rainbow dragon, Wong explained, is also representative of June’s pride month in Edmonton.

“The rainbow generally symbolizes what I think of all of our board members and CTC believe in, and we wish Edmontonians will get together and that’s how we should build our communities,” Wong said.

After the opening parade, the festivities will continue with a photo workshop, a photo contest and a Dragons Everywhere event at Louise McKinney park on Sunday — the event Wong is looking forward to most. Dragon kites will be on display, which Wong said is deeply symbolic for the culture and community.

For us Chinese, the kite symbolizes freedom and joy. A release of the worries and everything just floats away with the kite,” Wong said.

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Organizer’s prepare for next weekend’s Dragon Festival in Edmonton. Greg Southam

Two random May 18, 2022, broad daylight killings of local businessmen in Chinatown left the community reeling. It is still recovering from what has described as “two tragedies and decades of neglect.” The festival is one way that Chinatown hopes to build a stronger connection with all Edmontonians.

“We still have a lot issues down there and a lot of people that are helping us, and we just want to kind of realize that and say thank you.”

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