The Dragon Boat Festival made its debut last year where over 1,100 participants got the ride of their life in the Tennessee River as a way to raise money for the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation. Set for May 11 in the Point Mallard Park Aquatic Center, the event promises to make waves again in 2013 as paddlers compete for medals and bragging rights and spectators cheer on their favorite teams.
The Dragon Boat Race and Festival is a unique cultural event featuring adrenaline-pumping action while also serving as a fundraiser for the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation. Teams, comprised of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a trained dragon boat steerer/coach, will race in authentic Asian-style, 46-foot-long dragon boats. Teams may have four alternates, for a total of 25 team members, or can race with a minimum of 16. There must be at least eight female paddlers and minimum age for adult teams is 15 with parental consent. Each team is guaranteed at least two races on the 250-meter race course with winners advancing to the finals.
Racing starts at 9 a.m. and events last throughout the day until approximately 4 p.m., rain or shine. Spectators may watch and cheer on their favorite team from the beach area of the Point Mallard Aquatic Center or from the water at a safe distance from the race course. The concession stand will be open throughout the event. Water Park pools and rides will be closed.
Admission and parking are free. Donations will be accepted with proceeds benefiting the Decatur General Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization providing financial support to the programs and services of Decatur Morgan Hospital.
Sponsors for the 2013 event include Presenting Sponsor Toray, BP of Decatur, The Decatur Daily, Boeing, Clear Channel, Daikin, Decatur Parks and Recreation, FOX 54, Garden Plaza Hotel and Suites, Lynn Layton, Nucor, Temple, Inc., Valley Budweiser, Bryant Dental, Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Regions Bank, Pepsi of Decatur, Point Mallard Park, Volunteer Center of Morgan County, and Warren Averett Kimbrough and Marino.
Dragon boat racing is the eighth fastest growing sport in the world, with more than 50 million people in 63 countries participating. The tradition of Dragon Boat Racing is an annual Asian rite commemorating the idealistic poet and reformer Qu Yuan who drowned himself in the third century B.C. to protest against his emperor’s policies. The locals raced in their boats in an attempt to rescue the poet, and beat their drums and splashed their paddles to prevent fish and water dragons from eating his body. This was considered the beginning of Dragon Boat Racing. For more information about dragon boat racing, visit www.racedragonboats.com.
For more information on the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation Dragon Boat Race and Festival, visit www.decaturdragonboat.org.