This weekend's Tai Hang fire dragon dance is one of Hong Kong's liveliest traditions, but after more than 30 years at the helm of the event, Chan Tak-fai says he is beginning to feel tired. It is time for a new generation to take over. 'It's exhausting to manage this event,' Chan, 64, said. 'Even though it's done only once a year, the preparation takes at least a month. I need someone committed to take the driving seat, but I haven't met anyone suitable yet.' What is important for now, he says, is keeping the event running and the evil spirits away from Tai Hang village. According to Chan, the legend goes that in 1880 a huge python was found in the village after a typhoon. Villagers beat it to death and took it to the police, but it disappeared the next day and a plague broke out in the village, killing dozens of young men. An elderly villager had a dream in which he was told the misfortune would end if they bundled grass into a long dragon, covered it with incense sticks and burned them. 'About 1,000kg of pearl grass is imported from Guangdong to make the dragon, which is 67 metres long,' he said. 'We used local grass before, but many meadows have now been replaced by buildings. We then cover the dragon with 24,000 sticks of slow-burning incense.' This week, the government said that the dance was among four local traditions it would recommend to the Ministry of Culture for the status of national intangible cultural heritage. But Chan says he is not very concerned with such recognition. 'It'd be good to be on the list but ... that's not important,' he said. Villagers have performed the dragon dance every year except during the Japanese occupation from 1941 to 1945 and the 1967 riots. The tradition is strongest among long-term residents, but new ones are encouraged to participate. 'Newcomers become apprentices to the masters, learning how to choose the grass to make the dragon and how to tie it together,' he said. Chan said that he received more than 200 applications from people who wanted to be dragon bearers this year. He had to turn down dozens of them. He says that carrying the fire dragon through the streets is no stroll in the park. It requires more than 100 bearers taking turns to help with the back-breaking work. 'It weighs much more than it looks,' he said. 'The bearers of the dragon have to rotate. The strongest carry the head, the heaviest part, and each bearer moves five paces then passes it along to the next bearer - if they are strong enough. Although it's gruelling to have to manage these things every year, it's meaningful because it's a symbol of the community, which gathers the residents of Tai Hang every year.' The dance will take place today, tomorrow and Sunday at 7.30pm in Wun Sha Street, Tai Hang.