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Dragons Invade Staten Island at Celebration of St. George

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 16, 2013 8:37am

ST. GEORGE — The town named after dragon slayer St. George is seeing an invasion of the mythical creatures.

The seventh annual St. George Day Festival, which features a parade of dragons and a large puppet show, will take place on Staten Island April 20.

The festival mixes events that promote environmental issues for Earth Day, art and literature, with a unique take on the myth of Saint George and the dragon, said festival organizer Jenny Lytton-Hirsch.

“It is one of the most unique events with all the themes,” she said. “It’s not your typical street fair.”

The festival centers around a parade, featuring 10 to 15-foot dragons and a giant puppet show retelling the myth of Saint George — England's patron saint — and the dragon.

Instead of Saint George slaying the dragon that lived in the lake, the festival's version has Saint George and the dragon resolving their problems non-violently.

“We took that myth and decided to make it be more about cooperative problem solving,” Lytton-Hirsch said. “We centered our story around them sharing the water. The theme of the whole festival became about sharing resources and peaceful conflict resolution.”

The puppets are made before the parade by local artists and school children, and Lytton-Hirsch said the festival focuses on hands-on art and ecological events for the community.

“All of it is supposed to be participatory,” she said. “The idea is to encourage civic engagement and the idea that one could be part of it, help create the art, help create the festival.”

Another goal of the festival, Lytton-Hirsch said, is to bring together the diverse population of St. George to celebrate their neighborhood together.

“Part of our mission was to bring together the diversity of the neighborhood,” she said.  “It was a really nice coming together of these people from different backgrounds.”

The day features live music, readings from local authors, activities for children, nature walks on notable St. George trees, a GrowNYC free store, workshops on composting, recycling and more.

Last year, around 3,000 people attended the event. Lytton-Hirsch expects this year to have be even better.

“We’ve gotten bigger and more popular every single year,” she said. “People look forward to it.”

The St. George Day Festival originally started as a small series of art and literature contests inside the Everything Goes Book Cafe. By the third year, the event got so popular, it moved across the street and snowballed into the large gathering it is now, Lytton-Hirsch said.

The festival will be held rain or shine, and it will start at noon and finish at 7 p.m. For a full list of activities and a schedule of events, visit the St. George Day website.